Federal funding aims to expand options in New York ‘child care deserts’

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 1:19 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT
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WILLSBORO, N.Y. (WCAX) - New York is making big investments in child care.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced more than $70 million in grants that will go to 344 new child care providers in New York.

Hochul said the grants to new providers will create more than 12,000 new slots across the state. That includes 592 slots for infants and toddlers, and nearly 500 slots during nontraditional hours.

Hochul called this a transitional moment in New York.

“We just lifted the burden on our families and give kids a chance to be in a nurturing and loving environment where they are learning. Day care centers are not providing babysitting services, they’re providing that first education for our children,” said Hochul, D-New York.

A report from the state Senate in December found 64% of New Yorkers live in a “child care desert” where there are either no providers or not enough to meet families’ needs.

NORTH COUNTRY REACTION TO CHILD CARE GRANTS

It’s opening day at the Clubhouse Day Care Center in Willsboro, New York.

“Able to have 6 weeks to 5 years old,” said Taylor Lorman of the Clubhouse.

It’s the only child care center in Essex County.

“We are considered a child care desert,” said Jennifer Pierce of the Clubhouse. “There is 14 children per available child care slot.”

With more than 10 years of experience working in day cares, the team is fit for the job and now will be able to offer more.

“The goal is to get them safe playgrounds and equipment that is going to last them a very long time,” Lorman said.

And to offer help to those who need it, thanks to the child care desert grant.

“We are going to use a large portion to set up an endowment fund for a tuition assistance program for our families,” Pierce said.

The grant was made to fund new child care programs in child care deserts or places with insufficient child care options.

The federal funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act and is part of the state’s $100 million child care desert initiative.

The Clubhouse is one of 21 centers or day cares in the North Country to win money.

They say they haven’t been told how much money they will get from the grant just yet, but $3 million will be distributed throughout the seven counties in the North Country.

Child care experts in the north country called it “disappointing” that out of $70 million, the North Country is seeing such a small amount when child care deserts are so common.

They also said the money is not eligible to use for licensing, which is a barrier stopping many centers or day cares from opening in the region.

Back at the Clubhouse, they say they are thankful for any and all the help they can get and hope to continue opening their doors to everyone looking for a safe place for their kids.

“We want our program to be accessible to everyone which is one of the reasons why the grant is so helpful,” Pierce said.

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