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Hochul: Child care desert grant awardees receive nearly $70 million in federal funding


Mon, Jul 25th 2022 01:30 pm

Funding supports new child care programs in areas without sufficient child care slots

√ Part of $7 billion investment in child care in FY 2023 state budget

√ Highlights legislation making diapers more affordable by exempting them from all sales and use taxes

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced nearly $70 million in grant funding has been awarded to newly licensed, registered or permitted child care programs in areas of the state without sufficient child care slots, known as child care deserts. The funds, which are part of the $100 million child care desert initiative approved in the fiscal year 2022 enacted budget, were made available through the American Rescue Plan Act and are administered by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. The grants will help new child care providers in underserved areas build their programs, cover start-up and personnel costs, recruit, train and retain staff, and support staff in accessing COVID-19 vaccines.

Additionally, the governor highlighted legislation (S.8033A/A.8528A) that will help make diapers more affordable by exempting adult and children's diapers, including disposable diapers, from all sales and use taxes.

"Expanding child care options for working families is personal to me. As a young mom, I had to leave my job due to lack of access to affordable child care," Hochul said. "I want to thank Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand and the congressional delegation for helping secure this critical funding. New York remains committed to eradicating child care deserts, and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure all parents have access to this vital lifeline."

For this funding opportunity, a child care desert is defined as a census tract where there are three or more children younger than age 5 for each available child care slot, or there are no available child care slots in the tract.

Hochul’s team said, “Based on these criteria, more than 60% of New York state is considered a child care desert. All census tracts in New York state have been mapped to identify deserts. Anyone can review the child care desert map to discern if they live in a child care desert. Additional information about the grant can be found in the RFA.”

It noted, “The fiscal year 2023 enacted budget includes a historic investment to expand access to high-quality child care to support children and families and help stimulate New York state's continued economic recovery. It includes an unprecedented $7 billion investment over four years and increases the income eligibility threshold for child care assistance in August 2022 to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level ($83,250 for a family of four) – extending eligibility to more than half of New York state's young children.”

Additionally, Hochul highlighted legislation (S.8033A/A.8528A) that will help make diapers more affordable by exempting adult and children's diapers, including disposable diapers, from all sales and use taxes. Her team said, “Diapers are often a very large, if not the largest, expense for parents caring for infants and individuals caring for seniors. Although existing law exempts these diapers from the state's 4% sales tax, there are multiple counties and jurisdictions that do not provide for a local exemption. This bill will ensure that adult and children's diapers are not subject to this tax by counties or jurisdictions and follow the state exemption.”

In Western New York, total awards are $4,174,000, with 27 awardees.

Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila Poole said, "This funding further recognizes the acute shortage of infant and toddler child care, and the lack of available child care outside of standard business hours and days. We also ensured that diversity and equity components were built in to improve access in historically underserved neighborhoods of color and areas of high poverty. We are building child care slots as we continue to administer a range of programs in this administration's transformative investment in child care. This funding is a life line."

Schumer said, "Affordable child care is a waxing challenge for families everywhere and essential for our economic recovery. That is why, when I wrote the American Rescue Plan, I made sure to include robust funding to not only help our day care and child care programs survive, but also to invest in filling the gaps in our rural and underserved communities that need child care the most. Now, $70 million in federal funding that I secured will go directly to eliminating child care desserts, create good-paying jobs, and provide real help for struggling parents and children."

Congressman Brian Higgins said, "Five hundred days ago today, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. This historic legislation aimed to support families, lift children out of poverty, and build our economy back stronger than before the pandemic. When we invest in children, we invest in a stronger community. Addressing child care deserts will improve access to safe and affordable care in Western New York's underserved communities, ensuring that parents can actively participate in the workforce while providing the basic needs for their children."

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