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Gillibrand calls for support of child-care funding bill

Miles, right, eats lunch with Jackson and Lucy as Alanna Biata helps Tuesday at Tompkins Cortland Community College's child-care program. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced an effort to help community college's improve their child-care programs for their students. (Provided photo)

DRYDEN — Casey Goodwin has a concern over the cost of child care, particularly for parents still in college.

“We need more financial aid available for more parents,” especially for parents who aren’t sure they can keep their children in the center, said Goodwin, director of the Arthur Kukes Childcare Center at Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is trying to address with the support of S. 3168, a bill in the U.S. Senate to create grants for community colleges and minority-serving institutions to increase child-care services, including more student loans for students who are also parents.

“Parents shouldn’t have to choose between getting a college degree and affording child care,” Gillibrand said in a news release. “However, many student parents have trouble finding and affording high-quality child care services, particularly for infants and toddlers.”

The $9 billion act would:

¯ Provide free child care for up to 500,000 children under 3 years old with parents in school.

¯ Provide funding and support for infant and toddler care programs near community colleges and minority-serving institutions.

¯ Support early childhood education programs at community colleges and other institutions to create a pipeline of infant and toddler care providers in the community.

¯ Expand the eligibility for the Child Care and Development Block Grants subsidy to low-income parents enrolled in an accredited institution of higher education.

¯ Increase the federal match for child-care services for infants and toddlers to 90%.

¯ Require institutions of higher education to share with students information on the Dependent Care Allowance, which can provide many student parents with an additional $3,000 in subsidized federal student loans each year.

For Goodwin, the funding would help also help with enrollment.

“We would have more student-parents that would enroll and they would be able to take classes,” she said.

Of the 57 children who have filled spots in the college’s child-care center this semester, 28 are the children of students.

“Having the child care for parents is very important for students to complete classes and the goals they set for themselves” like graduating on time, said Stephanie Fritz, the director of SUNY Cortland’s child care center.

The bill doesn’t cover grants for four-year colleges and universities, but Fritz noted that many community college students go on to earn four-year degrees.

She said she hopes the federal government will be able to assist child centers like that of SUNY Cortland’s.

The child care center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, she said.

“Money from federal government could help maintain that quality, Fritz said.

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(Via AP StoryShare)

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