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New York has a child care problem: How can lawmakers fix it?

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New York lawmakers are grappling with a childcare crisis that has been exacerbated by the state’s low wages for childcare providers, according to a recent study from Cornell University. The study revealed that the state’s childcare workforce has decreased by 11% from 2019 to 2020, the lowest it has been in over a decade.

During a senate committee hearing this week, witnesses testified about the impact of low wages on the childcare crisis.

Some lawmakers agreed that pay disparities are a significant contributing factor to the childcare crisis. “Everyone needs to be treated equal. Every single person who has a place in the development of a child needs to be paid a wage that can keep them there,” said Sen. Rob Rolison (R-39th Senate District).

In last year’s budget, Governor Kathy Hochul committed more than $7 billion to be allocated over the course of four years to address the crisis. However, some lawmakers and advocates argue that this amount is not enough to make the childcare sector sustainable or even thriving.

“The childcare sector is in free fall and the amount we budgeted so far has not been anywhere close to making it sustainable or even thriving,” said Sen. Jabari Brisport (D-25th Senate District).

Sen. Brisport added that he expects the governor to match the ask of last year’s budget, which was a minimum of $5 billion annually, to be invested in stronger salaries, more expanded programs, and a higher eligibility level for parents.

The governor’s state executive budget is due next week and Sen. Brisport said the legislature will be bringing these concerns with them into budget talks to follow the governor’s budget address.