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Survey outlines the high cost of child care

PLATTSBURGH – North Country families with two kids under the age of 5 spend about $15,000 a year on childcare, according to a recent survey conducted by the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country.

“We have an advocacy campaign that we have just launched this week called Stand Up for Child Care in the Adirondacks,” Jamie L. Basiliere, executive director of the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, said.

Stand Up for Child Care Adirondacks is a North Country child care advocacy coalition.

It released three videos addressing challenges faced by the child care industry and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The videos feature child care providers, parents and community leaders who share their issues and solutions to stabilize the industry that is crucial to the success of the North Country economy.

Child care is economic development,” Sylvie Nelson, North Country Workforce Development Board executive director, said in a press release.

Although encouraged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo committing $40 million in the 2021 NYS budget toward child care, Stand Up for Child Care Adirondacks is asking state elected officials to commit to a legislative add of $1.5 million for facilitated enrollment in the 2021 NYS budget.

High cost of child care

The funds would offset the high cost of child care faced by median income working families in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties.

“We are asking Billy Jones, our state lawmaker in Albany, for a $1.5 million Legislative Addition to pay for childcare subsidies that families making to 250 percent of poverty would be eligible for,” Basiliere said.

“These are working families. These are the ALICE families – Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed.”

Current county guidelines for childcare subsidies only go to about 150 percent of poverty.

The facilitated enrollment childcare subsidies go up to 250 percent.

“So what that means, those families spending $15,000 a year or those families not spending $15,000 a year and using poor quality, unlicensed childcare because that’s what they can afford, would be able to afford high-quality, licensed childcare,” Basiliere said.

“This might help us create a pipeline for new people to get licensed to provide childcare.

“If they knew that families could afford their rates because they were getting help through facilitated enrollment, they might choose high-quality care, get the subsidy, get the help paying, and this also can help the childcare programs and providers.”

Real challenges

Stand Up for Child Care Adirondacks advocates for CARES money to go directly to child care providers to infuse cash into programs and long term investment as well as support the child care profession by streamlining and solidifying a pipeline for the development of child care businesses, beginning with recruitment of new providers.

Without financial help, 50 percent of child care centers will go out of business, according to the Center of American Progress.

And just as important, the cost of child care has surpassed housing as the most expensive category of basic living, creating as significant barrier for families.

Additionally, a staggering 70 percent of U.S. child care providers report working a second job.

“In Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties, there are 20,000 children under the age of 12 in need of child care; 30 percent of which live in poverty and whose parents must disburse, on average, $15,000 per year for two children in child care,” said Sara Allen Taylor, project director of the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, said in a press release.

“Those numbers are unsustainable.”

Economic impact of child care

Meanwhile, COVID-19 is putting a financial strain on child care providers, according to the release.

Decreased enrollment and increased operational costs have left most providers, both for-profit and nonprofit, in an unsustainable financial situation. Child care providers are working hard to balance their ability to operate with efforts to keep children healthy. The top priority for providers is understanding how to safely care for young children, knowing that continuing to operate puts staff and children at risk.

In September 2020, a cross-sector coalition of businesses, nonprofits, child care providers, and others hosted a roundtable with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, then Senator Betty Little and Assemblyman Billy Jones to highlight the dire situation of child care in the region and unveiled three recommendations.

“In meetings with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Assemblyman Billy Jones and Assemblyman-elect Matt Simpson, we are encouraged by the fact they understand the crucial role child care plays in the economy,” Basiliere said.

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