Fighting for child care improvements

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CSEA is strongly advocating for a robust package of specific budget actions that will stabilize the current child care provider workforce that will allow more providers to open and to thrive in the future.

CSEA/VOICE recently submitted testimony to the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Human Services. To begin rebuilding and expanding the child care industry, CSEA is urging the legislature to make the following changes:

Convert to a system of pay for enrollment. CSEA supports converting the current child care subsidy reimbursement system from the current ‘attendance model’ to a ‘pay for enrollment’ plan, the same system used for private pay families. This would allow providers to budget annually or semi-annually. The new system would allow them to expand capacity, hire more workers and pay existing workers more without fear of losing money if a child is out sick on an extended absence.

This is especially important to child care small businesses during COVID.

Raise payments to the 90th percentile. Our union is also advocating for a significant pay increase for providers by raising subsidy reimbursement payments to the 90th percentile, from the current 69th percentile of the market rate. This will increase wages immediately for child care providers, allowing them to reinvest it in their facilities, hire more staff, or expand their programs. It would also encourage more providers to offer care to subsidized children.

Allow child care providers to participate in universal pre-kindergarten programs. CSEA supports the expansion of universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) but with the caveat that quality child care programs be included in this conversation. CSEA/VOICE providers are early childhood educators who can and should play a role in this expansion.

Many CSEA/VOICE child care providers currently offer a quality, structured curriculum to 3 and 4 year-old children in their care. With the expansion of UPK, which is free for families, more parents may choose to send their children to a UPK program rather than a child care program for which they may have to make a co‐payment. Allowing child care providers to be part of the UPK network will serve all children by giving parents available options that meet their needs.

If the plan passes, this will give New York the tools needed to implement Universal Child Care and change the broken market rate system that currently determines the income for thousands of CSEA/VOICE members.

It would allow for assessment based on a true cost estimation model instead of a market rate and streamline the entire system. It is vital for our state’s recovery. While CSEA’s proposal will not solve the crisis in full, it will further stabilize it, encourage new providers to enter this field, and will show that our state values providers and the work that they do.

— Jill Asencio

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About Author

Jill Asencio

Jill Asencio is the statewide communications specialist assigned to CSEA Headquarters in Albany. She is a summa cum laude graduate of The College of Saint Rose and award-winning photo/video journalist and public relations professional. As part of CSEA’s communication team since 2007, she found her passion in labor, advocating for children and New York’s working families. Asencio understands first-hand the value of growing up in a union household and the deep connection unions have in ensuring strong, educated and healthy families.

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