CSEA/VOICE Local President Pamela Wells speaks to the very large group of providers and advocates at the Rally for Child Care at our state Capitol.

ALBANY — CSEA/VOICE Local President Pam Wells and CSEA/VOICE Ulster Chapter Representative and Statewide Political Action Committee member Heidi-Jo Brandt recently visited the state Capitol to join child care advocates from across the state as a part of the Empire Child Care Coalition.

For the third consecutive year, the providers participated in meetings with state lawmakers, including State Sen. Betty Little and Assemblymembers Chris Tague and Carrie Woerner. Providers also rallied with colleagues and advocates on the Million Dollar Staircase at our state Capitol.

Our providers’ top priority was advocating for proper funding for child care. Each year, the state budget consistently underfunds the need of parents and children affecting access to quality programs like our CSEA Child Care members’ programs. This lack of access often prevents access CSEA/VOICE members advocate for child care funding, improvements to quality care.

Wells and Brandt also made the case that adequate funding has effects beyond keeping parents earning and children learning. It not only has a profound effect on child care provider’s small business, but also their ability to offer community members employment as assistants and ultimately to boost the local economy.

“Lack of funding in child care is not just an issue for the children and families we care for; it’s also a work force issue,” Brandt said.

Brandt’s funding discussion with State Assemblymember Chris Tague made an impact. While Tague, a Republican, offered to draft a bill providing for additional child care funding, he requested a woman from the other side of the political aisle to co-sponsor.

CSEA/VOICE Ulster Chapter Representative and CSEA Statewide Political Action Committee Member Heidi-Jo Brandt joins child care advocates Penny Dombrowski and Sue Holdridge for a very productive conversation with Assemblymember Chris Tague on the need for child care funding.

Later that day, Wells and Brandt had successful talks with Assemblymember Carrie Woerner, a Democrat. Woerner said she would consider working with Tague on this.

Wells and Brandt also brought up the significant impact new federal rules regarding expanded background checks were having on providers, as reported from across the state by our CSEA/VOICE members.

Providers were suddenly forced to wait anywhere from one to two months to hire new workers, under the new requirements, despite having been promised no more than two weeks. In many instances, this forced them to operate under capacity to meet adult-to-child ratio requirements.

“We’ve been fighting to ensure our voices are heard on this,” Wells said. “This was a very important issue to solve because of the time involved in getting people processed. While we agreed with the safety more comprehensive background checks provides us, we disagreed with its implementation.”

Three days after Lobby Day, CSEA’s ongoing discussion about clearances with the state Office and Children and Family Services (OCFS) resulted in OCFS changing their guidance on this new federal regulation to “ease the burden on programs and parents.”

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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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