Several assemblywomen have been traveling the state to hear from families and experts on the state of childcare in New York state and its impact on family stability, the labor force and the economy.
Three discussions so far — in New York City, Yonkers and Albany — have been organized by Assemblywomen Ellen Jaffee and Shelley Mayer to collect information that might help them draft legislation this coming session.
The legislators point out that two-thirds of all families in New York state are headed by parents in the workforce and most work full-time by the time their children reach the age of three.
They said that safe, reliable, high-quality child care promotes positive child development and is critical to a family’s ability to maintain a job and remain self-sufficient, however, many working families across in New York are not able to find childcare that is both affordable and high-quality.
The roundtable discussions held this fall come after a May 23 public hearing in Albany, held by Assemblywoman Jaffee and Senator Tony Avella, to discuss child care issues, particularly lack of funding, accessibility and quality.
“Without child care, parents cannot pursue their education, move themselves out of poverty, or remain in the workforce contributing to the economy and improving their quality of life,” said Jaffee, who is chair of the Assembly Committee on Children and Families.
Jaffee says the biggest obstacle is funding. She says 83 percent of low-income families that qualify for assisted child care don’t get it. A lot of these families will be put on wait lists or aren’t allowed to apply because of the freezing of child care assistance programs when there is a lack of funds.
Jaffee and Mayer are hoping to continue the discussions into the upcoming session.
“There is more we can and must do to learn about the challenges and successes our local child care providers, parents and advocates are facing,” said Mayer, who chairs the Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues. “We must use their knowledge and experiences to inform our work.”
Jaffee will hold another roundtable in her district on Monday, November 13, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Student Meeting Room at Rockland Community College.
Other lawmakers will be hosting additional roundtables in their districts throughout the state before the beginning of session.