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Child Care Groups, Advocates Pushing State Officials to Adopt a Universal Child Care System

Childcare advocates lobby at the state capital on February 14, 2023.
One of the many childcare advocates at the state capital on February 14, 2023. Photo courtesy of The Children’s Agenda

Last week advocates from across the state of New York, including about 24 people from the Rochester area ascended on the state capital in Albany to lobby officials to adopt the Children and Families Reinvestment Act and move NYS towards a universal child care system.

Organized by Empire State Campaign for Child Care, about 250 parents and advocates, including 24 people from Rochester and Monroe County went to the state capital.

The Rochester group included members of The Children’s Agenda Very Invested Parents advocacy group and some childcare providers.

“New York has an opportunity to build equity into the childcare system,” said Pete Nabozny, Policy Director at The Children’s Agenda and co-leader of the Empire State Campaign for Child Care. “During the pandemic, childcare closures were widespread throughout New York state. However, some communities were impacted more than others. As we rebuild the system, it is important that we build equity for families and for providers.”

Empire State Campaign for Child Care wants New York to invest $5 billion to achieve universal childcare by 2026. They laid out a wide range of priorities including:

  1. Establish a short-term workforce compensation fund to raise median childcare worker pay by at least $12,500 per year.

  2. Provide a monthly per-child supplement for evening and weekend care and start-up grant programs for providers seeking to offer care during non-traditional hours to support families who work evenings, nights, and weekends.

  3. Adopt categorical childcare assistance eligibility so families who are enrolled in other public assistance programs like SNAP, WIC and Medicaid, have easier access to assistance.

  4. Develop an online application, eligibility, recertification, and provider payment processes for families receiving childcare assistance.

The Children and Families Reinvestment Act is sponsored by Senator Jabari Brisport, D, Brooklyn and Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, D, Queens along with dozens of elected officials. The coalition sent Governor Kathy Hochul a proposal last year. The legislation would provide increased funding to the state’s child welfare system.

“It’s not right that families who can afford any kind of care and can go anywhere can make that choice,” said Bridget Shumway, Executive Director of Generations Child Care. “Children who live in homes that don’t have those resources should have the same choice.”

“I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be able to go to a childcare facility where their mother doesn’t have to worry about them while she’s working,” explained Diane Tanner, a Rochester grandparent.

The Children’s Agenda is a non-profit organization founded in 2004. Their goal is to improve the lives of children of all ages by engaging leaders in systemic change through research, collaboration and advocacy.


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