ALBANY — Members of CSEA’s child care local recently joined parents, union and advocate partners for the Empire State Campaign for Child Care Lobby Day (ESCCC) and one week later, the Union Child Care Coalition Lobby Day (UCCC) in Albany to advocate for quality, affordable child care for all New York families and a living wage for those who teach and care for our youngest children.
Although the proposed 2019-20 New York State Budget did include $26 million for child care, much of this is needed to implement federal regulations that were put in place last year, yet never funded. New York’s families find child care the biggest expense next to rent or a mortgage and can cost families as much as college tuition.
CSEA/VOICE Local President Pam Wells, along with Heidi-Jo Brandt, CSEA/VOICE Ulster Chapter Representative and member of our Statewide Political Action Committee; Tiffany Malone, CSEA/VOICE Erie-Niagara Chapter Representative and Erie-Niagara Chapter member Diane Abram, traveled to our State Capitol to also call for restoring subsidy reimbursement rates to the previously held 75th percentile. This is the rate that child care providers receive for taking care of children who receive a subsidy which helps parents afford child care to be able to work.
Reimbursement rates have been flat funded at a much lower rate since 2015, while operating costs for their child care small businesses continue to rise. It puts many providers in a position of earning the equivalent of minimum wage or below.
“It is important to stay politically active,” said Brandt. “Child care providers especially must have a say in the conditions of our work and small businesses. Visiting with legislators keeps us in their consideration as they make decisions about us and the families we care for.”
One week later, CSEA/VOICE was at the State Capitol again, working to secure funds for Child Care Facilitated Enrollment Program — a program founded by unions in 2003 to support working parents with the cost of child care. The program currently operates in New York City and eight upstate counties. CSEA providers are working with our union partners to expand this valuable program to additional counties.
“Child care funding is not an expense, it is an investment,” Wells said. “We are funding our future.”
These actions are just a small piece of what CSEA/VOICE has been working on to make child care more affordable and a better life for providers, like working with DSS agencies to improve provider payment systems and offering required training opportunities for providers and assistants at no cost.
— Jill Asencio