Lawmakers say funding critical to aid parents in seeking full-time employment
New York State Sens. Chris Jacobs and Pat Gallivan are leading the fight to secure $2 million in the fiscal year 2019 state budget for a childcare program that helps low-income working parents.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Jacobs and Gallivan requested the funding for the facilitated enrollment childcare subsidy in Erie County. The program helps low- and moderate-income working parents attain affordable childcare that meets regulatory safety standards.
"Accessing quality child care is often a huge impediment to people seeking or trying to keep full-time employment," Jacobs said. "This program provides much-needed assistance for parents transitioning to become more economically independent."
"This program provides critical access to quality childcare for parents who would not otherwise be able to afford it," Gallivan said. "By assisting these families, we support hard-working parents who are often forced to choose between full-time employment and care for their children."
The facilitated enrollment childcare program is operated by the Erie County Department of Social Services and the New York State Workforce Development Institute. It is designed to support parents who earn too much to qualify for the Erie County childcare subsidy, but cannot afford quality childcare on their own.
Since 2016, the WNY Women's Foundation has championed Erie County's inclusion in the program, which is available in seven other counties and New York City. The organization included increased funding of the facilitated enrollment program as its primary 2018 advocacy priority. Last year, the program was able to provide childcare subsidies to over 57 families and 84 children throughout Erie County. Many more families are in need of this funding, however, and it is projected the increase requested by Gallivan and Jacobs could serve more than 200 children in the upcoming fiscal year.
"Quality childcare is an essential tool for our families - for a child's healthy development and for a parent's ability to work while their child is safely cared for," said Sheri Scavone, executive director, WNY Women's Foundation. "The facilitated childcare subsidy program bridges a crucial gap, allowing working parents to focus on the family's economic security while building our local economy."
Brianna Harris is a working mother with two young children who participates in the facilitated enrollment childcare subsidy program through the Child Care Resource Network. She credits the program with giving her the peace of mind necessary to excel at her job knowing that her children are well cared for while she works.
"There is so much stress on working parents, always wondering if their children are safe and well cared for while we are at work," Harris said. "I am able to work two jobs and provide for my family without the stress and the worry because of this program. It isn't a nicety, it is a necessity."