BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Buffalo parents and children are joining a new initiative to ask Governor Andrew Cuomo to invest in child care. They held up signs saying “we’re worth it” and “invest in us” at the Children’s Center for Success.
Forty-two child care centers in Erie County closed between January and April of this year, according to local officials. Child care providers told News 4 facilities are closing because of rising costs.
Another expense could be on the way for providers. New York State is getting ready to implement the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant.
It includes nearly a dozen new requirements for caregivers, including new mandatory training immediately after hire and federal background checks for all employees.
The non-profit Child Care Resource Network said they expect to see the new rules begin to go into place at the end of this year or the beginning of next year and fully be in place in the next two to three years.
CEO Amanda Kelkenberg told News 4 it could cost $90 million to implement statewide, and local child care providers may have to pay for it.
“This is a cost that programs are not going to be able to afford,” said Kelkenberg.
She said they are asking Governor Cuomo to include funding for the implementation in this year’s budget.
“It’s really a decision that New York State has to make, where do we want to spend our money?” she said. “Do we want to spend it to support the health safety well-being of children, and allow families to go to work? Or is there another priority?”
She said more daycare centers will close in Erie County if the state doesn’t pick up the cost of the new regulations.
Child care providers are also asking the Governor to put about $4 million towards funding child care subsidies, which cover the cost of daycare. Families applying for a subsidy for the first time in Erie County currently can’t get one because there is no money left, according to the County Executive’s office. The freeze has been in place since April.
“It’s a very difficult time for some families,” said Kim Stewart, director of Children’s Center for Success in Buffalo. “They’ve had to turn down jobs, other times they are trying to piece it together with family, relatives, or friends to try to make it work until the freeze is lifted.”
There are about 50 families on a waiting list to send their kid to Children’s Center for Success once the subsidy freeze is lifted, according to Stewart.
She told News 4 that child care for an infant in Erie County can reach $12,000 per year so the subsidy is essential for some families.
Currently about 48 percent of Buffalo children, 18 years old and younger, live in poverty, according to Child Care Resource Network. The organization told News 4 that 1,367 families rely on the subsidies to pay for child care.
Stewart said the subsidy freeze is also affecting businesses.
“I have watched many quality programs not able to survive during this freeze which I think limits families choices,” said Stewart.
Both the Buffalo Common Council and Erie County Legislature have sent resolutions to Albany to encourage Governor Cuomo to fund the implementation of the new regulations and the child care subsidies.