From left, Tiffany M. Malone, CSEA/VOICE Erie-Niagara Chapter Representative; Heidi-Jo Brandt, CSEA/VOICE Ulster Chapter Representative; Pam Wells, CSEA/VOICE Local President and Diane Abrams, CSEA/VOICE Erie-Niagara Chapter Member.

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.

CSEA/VOICE’s Tiffany M. Malone and Diane Abrams speak with an aide from State Sen. Michael Razenhofer’s office about the need for funding from the Family Child Care perspective.

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.

CSEA/VOICE Local President Pam Wells, right, discusses her family child care program and the need for families to have access to quality child care with her State Sen. Betty Little’s aide.

“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

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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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