BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — New York State leaders continue to push to expand access to quality, affordable child care for families across the state, and now new money could help in that fight.
Speaking at the EduKids on Bailey Avenue Friday morning, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) announced more than $135,000 will be going to agencies statewide through the New York State Birth – 5 Project to help them identify the specific child care issues in their regions and connect families with resources.
“Many times, people don’t even have a database to know where to look,” Hochul said.
Hochul says 60 percent of people in New York State live in areas that are considered ‘child care deserts’, where there are either no child care facilities or there are very long waiting lists to get into one.
That prevents many parents from going back to work after a child is born.
“Child care is not just a family’s problem. It is an economic problem for the entire state of New York,” Hochul said.
Hochul is the chair of the state’s Child Care Availability Task Force, and points out there are other steps, beyond the Birth-5 Project, to help families out.
“We provided for tax assistance in our budget. We allocated for $26 million in our budget last year. We have after school programs, $45 million. We have Paid Family Leave required. We have opportunities for people to go to college,” she said to the crowd at EduKids. “But at the end of the day, its’ about having places for kids to go, brick and mortar places like this.”
Hochul points out the child care providers in the state currently employ 172,000 people, and expanding child care helps job creation.
State leaders say expanding child care through initiatives like the Birth-5 Project is an important aspect of putting New York parents to work.
“The progress that will be made because of this will impact people’s lives in a way that is yet understood,” said Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo). “And I’m excited about it.”
Lt. Gov. Hochul says expanding access to child care continues to be a priority for the state. She says economic development leaders statewide have been directed to ask companies to address child care issues in their plans when they ask the state for money. That includes having more employers offer child care for employees’ families on site.