Funding Supports New Child Care Programs in Areas Without Sufficient Child Care Slots
Part of Historic $7 Billion Investment in Child Care in FY 2023 State Budget
Highlights Legislation (S.8033A/A.8528A) Making Diapers More Affordable by Exempting Them from All Sales and Use Taxes
Governor Hochul: "An issue that is very personal to me: child care. I come from experience, not just as the first woman Governor of New York, but the first mom Governor of New York we have to address this head on. We have no choice. It's the right thing to do, should have been done a long time ago. You look at other industrialized nations, they prioritize families. I think it's time we prioritize families and we'll start here in the State of New York. And so today I'm announcing over $70 million for child care to go to 344 new child care providers, brand new providers, and that'll create over 12,000 new slots across the State of New York."
Hochul: "I'm excited about this. It's not just the funding, it's about having a creative vision to figure out what we do in this post-pandemic world with surplus space, a high need for child care, the money from Washington, and smart people who just want to do whatever we can to strengthen New York families."
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that nearly $70 million in grant funding has been awarded to newly licensed, registered or permitted child care programs in areas of the state without sufficient child care slots, known as child care deserts. The funds, which are part of the $100 million child care desert initiative approved in the Fiscal Year 2022 Enacted Budget, were made available through the American Rescue Plan Act and are administered by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. The grants will help new child care providers in underserved areas build their programs, cover start-up and personnel costs, recruit, train, and retain staff, and support staff in accessing COVID-19 vaccines. Additionally, the Governor highlighted legislation (S.8033A/A.8528A) that will help make diapers more affordable by exempting adult and children's diapers, including disposable diapers, from all sales and use taxes.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
I just had the opportunity to do one of my favorite things which was to sit down and play with a group of three and four year olds. I get into great conversations with them about pets, and hamsters, and cats and whether you should have a tiger as a pet. So, it was a lot of fun. So, that was joyful to be here at the Y.
I want to thank the Y and Marty Englisher for hosting us. This is a great venue, Marty. Thank you for the work that you have done here for generations to lift up children and to give parents an opportunity to know that their kids are in a very nurturing environment. You've set so many people who are now adults off onto great success. So, thank you to you and your incredible team here as well.
We'll be joined momentarily by Congressman Espaillat, who we want to have speak about the source of federal funds for what we're announcing here today. But also really proud to be here with our Borough President, Mark Levine. I saw him yesterday. He's everywhere. Thank you, Senator Jamaal Bailey from District 36, co-sponsor of a bill that will be signing here today. Tara Gardner, the Executive Director of the Daycare Council, important work, you'll be hearing from her. As well as our Senator, Robert Jackson has joined us, Senator Jackson. And Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos, so I want to thank him for being here as well.
So also, Janice Molnar is here as well. Janice, thank you for being here. I know we're kind of in our farewell swan song here. You've been doing a great job and your influence has been very impactful at the Division of Child Care Services. So, thank you for what you do at OCFS. 15 years of hard work dedicated. You've left a legacy and I want to thank you for all that. So on behalf of all families, we thank you.
Great to be back in Washington Heights as well. I spent a lot of time here and it's just been great to see what we can do to lift families up here. And one of those areas is addressing an issue that is very personal to me: child care.
I come from experience, not just as the first woman Governor of New York, but the first mom Governor of New York. And 34 years ago as a working mom, I was very proud to be an attorney for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan on Capitol Hill. I loved my work, but the days were long. There were a lot of all-nighters, I was working on important legislation for the State of New York. And when I had my first son, Billy -- he calls himself Will now, okay, I still call him Billy -- there was no child care. There was no child care 34 years ago. I had no family support system and didn't know a lot of people in the city.
So, there I was. I had to sacrifice and give up a job that I truly loved. And obviously as a young couple starting out, it puts a hit on your income as well. So, I had to put my career on hold because of that. And I've always thought that I hoped that when the next generation, that son, Billy, has his own children that circumstances will be different. And he now has presented us with a now a two month old grandchild. So, they are fortunate to be on paternal leave and maternity leave now, and then they'll figure it out from there. But I do believe that the options are better because we have now focused on this as a priority for our families.
You're not no longer left alone to figure it out. This is your own family's problem, which was really the mindset for such a long time. Employers say that's your issue, but what we have seen that when there is a shortage of affordable child care, this really becomes not just a problem for a family, an economic problem for them, as well it's an economic problem for our society.
And when you think about what happened during the pandemic, so many women did not come back to work. In fact, I wrote a column about this literally two weeks after the pandemic shut down began and the women are the ones who are having to stay home. If they're not the essential workers, and many of them were. They were the healthcare workers, they worked in the stores, the restaurants with all the to-go food. They were the ones - some were on the front lines, others were just never going to be able to go back to their jobs. And it was a real crisis situation.
And the thought was as soon as the pandemic goes away, the women will all be back to work. That didn't happen. First of all, it really hasn't quite gone away despite our best efforts - we just did press on that last week, talking about our concern about this fall. Again, we're always staying on top of COVID, but also during that time, we didn't foresee that so many child care centers would have to shut down because their clients were no longer there or figured out they could work remotely and different things happened, but we still do not have the same number of women back in the workplace that we had in February of 2022 before everything just imploded.
So, what has also happened is there's an affordability crisis. It is just too expensive for too many families and it puts it out of reach. A typical New York family has to spend 40 percent of their income on child care for two kids. How does that happen? And in New York City, we have some of the highest minimum wages in the country, but a minimum wage worker has to work 26 weeks at a minimum wage to pay for the child care for their family. That's asking too much of our families. They've been through enough. The cost of everything is going through the roof, as well as child care. So, at a time when we need child care to be wildly available, we need the moms to have the opportunity to get back to work - the parents, the caregivers - we have an affordability crisis.
We also have an availability crisis, because so many shut down, and we saw that this predominantly hit Black and brown communities. This is where a lot of our workers come from. They don't have child care. How are they supposed to bring in that paycheck? Especially if you're a single mom trying to raise your children. It just doesn't work. And kids are being left at home. They're being left unsupervised or with an older sibling, trying to bring them to work, I've seen that. It's just frustrating.
So, we have decided the fact that we lost over 2,000 child care programs - that's not slots, that's not child care slots. That is 2,000 child care programs are no longer with us. They're gone. And that had over 20,000 slots, they evaporated. And because of that, there are now 2 million fewer women in the US workforce, direct correlation between that, than there had been. So, we have to address this head on. We have no choice. It's the right thing to do, should have been done a long time ago. You look at other industrialized nations, they prioritize families. I think it's time we prioritize families and we'll start here in the State of New York.
And so today, I'm announcing over $70 million for child care to go to 344 new child care providers, brand new providers, and that'll create over 12,000 new slots across the State of New York. That includes 592 slots for infants and toddlers, nearly 500 slots for non-traditional hours. Why are non-traditional hours so important? Because our essential workers have to work in healthcare settings around the clock. They are cleaning our hotel rooms and our restaurants and working, they're driving buses. They're out there making this city run and the state run. And what I think is one of the best takeaways of the pandemic, if there is one, is that we finally started seeing these unseen workers. We start to value our essential workers, and I've always said that the child care workers are the essential workers for the essential workers. So, let's just acknowledge the role they play.
This will also create nearly 3,000 new slots in New York City. And these individuals were selected from over 1,700 applicants, which I think is phenomenal. Also, this is just the first tranche of money going out. And some of those individuals are with us today. We have talked about child care deserts. I addressed it in my State of the State address when I was just only a governor for a few months. I knew then for my life's experiences and what I'd seen across the state that this was going to be a priority.
But, you can talk about child care deserts, the other thing is what you do about it. And right now, right now, over 60 percent of New York State is still considered a child care desert. 60 percent. And over half of New York City. So, thank God we have friends and partners in Washington, and I want to start by thanking President Joe Biden for understanding the stress that families are under and how critically important child care is just for survival for families. So, President Biden put forth a plan supported by our members of congress, and our senators, and I want to thank Senator's Gillibrand and Schumer for also helping this get over the finish line. And Congressman Espaillat who's joined us here today was also a leading champion to make sure that that money was passed, and that money flowed to the states, places like New York. So, funding from the American Rescue Plan could have a tangible benefit to families immediately, and that's what we're talking about today.
So, I want to thank all of these partners, but let's give Congressman Espaillata special round of applause for being a champion when we needed one. I will also tell you that I have been trying to get more focus on child care in non-traditional places, and let me describe that. For 8 years as Lieutenant Governor, I chaired what they called the Regional Economic Development Councils. It's a mechanism for people to go to the state, businesses that want to expand or come here or add on a new addition, they want to grow and create jobs, so we support them. That's exactly what we're trying to do is support more jobs. People get good jobs they can take care of their families. But, I've always said you should be telling us what your child care plans are for your workforce when you're sitting at the table asking for our help.
That has now been integrated into our economic development strategy. You have to be able to tell us are you going to create a consortium with other businesses. And in downtown, are you going to be giving flexible time to your workforce so they can take care of their needs at home? Are you going to be converting space, maybe some of the vacant office space we see in midtown and other places, converting that to child care centers? I said people aren't coming back to work because there's no one taking care of the kids. Imagine if the kids were taken care of at the place of work in a nurturing environment with trained professionals? I think men, women, parents, they would jump at the chance to know that they could go down the hall or a different floor and check in on their little babies, and their toddlers and see if they're doing okay. Then they get back, they work and they're productive because they're not worried.
So, that's how we start solving problems. I'm excited about this. It's not just the funding, it's about having a creative vision to figure out what we do in this post-pandemic world with surplus space, a high need for child care, the money from Washington, and smart people who just want to do whatever we can to strengthen New York families. So, we believe that we're going to be able to focus on this. Also, we just announced a new round of applications for existing child care facilities. Today, we talk about brand new facilities, brand new locations. Last year we announced over $30 million, with a total of $100 million in federal funding to address the child care deserts. Applications for those existing providers are open until August 24. So, existing providers, more money is there. Start applying and let's get that money out there to help you as well.
So, this is a record investment for our families, and I want to again thank Sheila Poole, who heads up our Office of Children and Family Services, for all your hard work to make this become a reality. This is a transitional moment for New York State. We will be defined by what we do in this post-pandemic world. I'm very conscious of that. When they look back at how we made the best out of a tough situation, and when we can say that we just lifted the burden on our families and give kids a chance to be in a nurturing, loving environment, where they're learning. Day care centers are not providing babysitting services, they're providing that first education for our children, and let's recognize them for that. So, we're going to continue.
So, to close this is on top of our $7 billion record investment in child care over the next few years. I already announced over $2 billion in child care subsidies, and our child care subsidies right now have an average benefit of over $9,000 per child. That's how we start meeting the needs. You help with the subsidies to families. And we have over 400,000 new slots based on the plan we put forth in our budget, just enacted by the senators and assemblymembers that I just acknowledged here today.
And I want to thank them for their support for this as well. So, we've doubled that. We also broaden eligibility. There was a time when people at the lower end of the spectrum could get assistance, but those people caught in the middle can't afford it on your own. You're just in that middle wasteland where you don't get the help.
We raised the eligibility. Families earning $82,000, $83,000 instead of $52,000, so we filled in that gap from people earning $52,000 to $83,000. So, we're also trying to figure out other ways to make life a little less expensive for families. And as a new grandma, and I've had a little more experience with diapers than I had in a while, I'm also thinking about the cost of diapers.
So, I also want to thank Senator Bailey and Assemblymember Nader Sayeghfor their bill on a plan to end all local taxes on diapers, so we can get that done. With inflation, rising costs going up, we did it on gasoline. We suppressed, we took off the state gasoline tax, diapers, other essential services. These are ways that we're just thinking of what it's like to be a parent today. And any way we can lift that financial burden on you, it is a good thing to be doing.
So, when you're putting the diapers in the shopping cart, the scramble to get formulas, and my God, people have been such under such stress. But to young parents, it does get easier. Someday they go off when they're 18 or so, it does get easier at that point. But until then, the weight of responsibility is on you. It is one we embrace. It's something we're very proud of, but also, as people in government, we have a responsibility to help you. And that's what today is all about. So, as long as I'm Governor, our administration will work tirelessly to lift stress from New York families, whether it's providing child care, reducing the high costs that you're encountering every day. So, what I want to do is sign a bill right now in front of all you, as my witnesses, with Senator Bailey to talk about that diaper bill. And then I want to hear from our congressman who's joined us momentarily. So, let's get the bill signed.