Workforce Retention Grant program to benefit 150,000 caregivers
√ Additional 2024 budget investments in child care include support for employers to create and expand child care options, expansion of Empire State Child Credit to help support nearly 630,000 more children
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced applications are open for $500 million from the fiscal year 2024 budget to bolster New York’s child care workforce through the Workforce Retention Grant program.
Her team said, “Funding will support approximately 150,000 direct child care staff through financial incentives ranging from $2,300 to $3,000 in retention and referral bonuses for existing staff as well as sign-on bonuses for new staff.”
Hochul explained, “As a mother who put her career on pause due to a lack of affordable child care, I understand first-hand how much not having access to these services can affect a family. Through the Workforce Retention Grant program, we can help grow and support our child care workforce as we continue working to expand access to this essential service for families across our state.”
A press release noted, “The FY 2024 budget created the Workforce Retention Grant program, which will make $500 million in underutilized federal funds available as grants for eligible child care programs. Funding can be used for staff retention bonuses and recruitment activities, including expenses related to recruiting and hiring new staff, and employer taxes incurred while issuing bonus payments or recruitment expenses.
“Eligible child care programs include school-age child care programs, day care centers, family day care homes, group family day care programs, small day care centers and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene-permitted Article 47 group centers. Staff eligible for retention and referral bonuses must be employed at the program’s physical location, have an active, direct child caring role, have worked a minimum number of hours per week from Jan. 1, 2023, and June 26, 2023, and have a completed background check on or before June 26, 2023.
“Apart from significant investments in the child care workforce to ensure safe, quality care for families, the FY 2024 budget includes additional historic funding, including a $4.8 million investment in a new employer-sponsored child care pilot program. Participating employers, the state and employees will split the cost of child care. Families must fall between 85% and 100% of the state median income to qualify. The pilot will operate in three separate regions throughout the state.”
The budget also established a new Employer Child Care Tax Credit available to businesses that create new child care seats (and expand existing options) for workers. The $25 million annual credit will be administered over two years through the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
Additionally, $1 million was allocated to create a statewide business navigator program in each of the 10 Regional Economic Development Council regions to help interested businesses identify options to support employees’ child care needs, and develop a statewide employer child care guidebook.
The budget also invests in New York's families by expanding the Empire State Child Credit (ESCC) to include children younger than 4. This expansion will provide $179 million in total support for more than 525,000 low- and middle-income taxpayers thanks to the inclusion of nearly 630,000 additional children. The ESCC, which has excluded children younger than 4 since its inception in 2006, will now provide an additional average benefit of $340 per affected taxpayer and $284 per newly included child.
Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave said, “The child care workforce grants are vital to hiring and maintaining quality staff to care for our youngest New Yorkers – one of the most important jobs that exists. Child care employees are primarily women, many of whom are of color. These grants recognize their important role in the nurturing and development of our children. All of the governor’s bold child care initiatives and reforms underscore how deserving our providers are and help make vital child care services more affordable, accessible and equitable for New York’s hardworking families.”