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Child care providers concerned about state budget proposal

Child care providers in New York have expressed disappointment with Governor Kathy Hochul’s latest budget proposal, citing a lack of new investments in the child care workforce. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s child care system has faced increasing challenges, with many facilities closing and widespread child care deserts emerging. Providers are feeling the financial strain, especially as one-time federal pandemic aid has ended.

Pete Nabozny of The Children’s Agenda pointed out significant understaffing in the sector, preventing families from accessing necessary care. Despite Hochul’s past focus on child care in State of the State and budget addresses, this year’s speech did not highlight these issues. Advocacy groups have found over 20,000 children on waitlists across New York, with empty classrooms remaining unused due to staffing shortages.

Hochul’s $233 billion budget proposal maintains last year’s $7 billion four-year commitment to child care and $1.8 billion in subsidized care but lacks new incentives or programs to enhance care availability. Child care advocates argue that tax incentives and existing programs are insufficient to support staff and keep providers operational.

With New York’s child poverty rate exceeding the national average, advocates are pushing for increased funding to boost staff salaries and move towards universal child care. Senate Children & Families Committee chair Jabari Brisport advocates for taxing the wealthy to fund these necessary increases, a stance Governor Hochul opposes. The goal of achieving universal child care in New York, estimated to cost between $5 and $7 billion annually, remains a critical issue.