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Prescreening tool to help families check for eligibility and connect with local funding resources
√ Reestablished task force to develop implementation plan for universal child care; includes state agencies, early education leaders, stakeholders
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced efforts to help working families access child care throughout New York state, including launching a new online screening tool for them to check eligibility and reestablishing a statewide task force to develop an implementation plan for universal child care.
Her team said, “These efforts are part of the governor's sweeping plan to make New York's child care system fairer, more affordable and easier to access, which was announced as part of her 2023 State of the State address.”
Hochul said, "As a mother who put her career on pause due to a lack of affordable child care, I understand first-hand how important this lifeline is for families. Complementing the major investments made in funding child care, we are taking significant steps to improve the process of finding care, widen program eligibility, and support our workforce to ensure all New Yorkers have access to these critical resources."
The new online screening tool will help parents determine their eligibility for financial support from the state's child care assistance program for low’ or no-cost child care.
A press release stated, “Developed by the state Office of Children and Family Services, the tool is aimed at accelerating and streamlining the application process for families, so that they can quickly determine the services they may be eligible to receive.
“Families can complete an optional online questionnaire, which immediately lets them know whether they meet the basic criteria for eligibility, and then directs them to the local department of social services to apply for funding. The new online tool is available to the general public in 12 languages on the New York State Office of Children and Family Services' website and can be accessed anywhere, anytime with a computer or mobile device.”
Hochul announced the statewide electronic prescreening tool as part of her State of the State address in January, when she called for streamlining and centralizing the child care application process. The governor also committed to accelerating the application process for families in her continuing effort to expand access to high-quality child care, including a $7.6 billion investment over four years.”
In addition, Hochul announced the reestablishment of the New York state child care availability task force, which will help develop a framework for how the state could implement universal child care. Co-chaired by OCFS Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave and Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, the task force met earlier this week for the first time since releasing its final report in May 2021.
The reestablished child care availability task force will advise the state on developing a phased-in rollout of universal child care, and is charged with issuing its new report by the end of the year. In addition to developing this plan, the task force will also evaluate the state's child care needs, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the delivery of child care, recommend ways to address the child care workforce crisis, and assess the implementation of policies supported by federally funded pandemic-related programs.
The task force is comprised of representatives from the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Council on Children and Families, Department of Taxation and Finance, Regional Economic Development Council, State University of New York, City University of New York, State Education Department. The task force membership also includes child care providers and unions, advocacy groups and stakeholders, the business community and local departments of social services.
Hochul served as co-chair the task force when it was initially convened in December 2018. New York state's social services law was amended to reconvene the task force and with a new charge, in addition to reviewing the progress of recommendations made in the 2021 report.
Gustave said, "We know that less than 10% of children eligible for child care assistance actually receive it. OCFS has been proud to administer Gov. Hochul's historic investments to support families in paying for child care, as well as strengthening the providers themselves to grow the state's existing programs and create new ones. With her vision as our guidepost, I am excited to co-chair this task force as we explore pathways to universal child care and making New York a model for accessible, affordable and equitable options."
Reardon said, "With the announcement of this task force, Gov. Hochul continues to show unparalleled leadership and determination in addressing the ongoing child care issues facing working families in our state. She knows firsthand this is not just a women's issue. It's a parent issue. It's an employer issue. It's a societal issue, and addressing it is vital to our continued economic recovery. I am proud to serve as task force co-chair, and look forward to working with the other members to identify and implement solutions."