Albany, NY Banding together behind the priorities its members chose at the beginning of 2016, the bi-partisan Legislative Womens Caucus (LWC) gathered at the State Capitol Wednesday to discuss how those priorities fared in the 2017-18 State Budget and called on the Governor to create a new task force to examine these issues. Child care and afterschool were selected as areas of focus during the term of its current Chair, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo.
While significant investments were made in afterschool in this years budget, child care received an unexpected cut, Lupardo (D-Binghamton) said. The LWC recognizes that investments in programs and services for children have positive, long-term effects across the state. Child care is commonly viewed as a fundamental component of workforce and economic development."
The final state budget included $35 million in new funding for the Empire State Afterschool Program. This funding will provide programming for 22,000 students in high-poverty communities across the state. However, $2.5 million was cut from Advantage Afterschool, which funds programs in all school districts, including those not located in economically distressed areas.
Cuts to child care subsidies amounted to $7 million after a proposed Title XX funding shift was defeated by the Legislature. The Governors budget proposal included $27 million in Title XX discretionary funds to be used exclusively for child care; however that shift would have resulted in the closure of more than 65 senior centers in New York City and reduced the amount available for Adult Protective Services in Upstate. The Legislature was able to restore $20 million for child care, but the remaining $7 million gap will result in 900 fewer slots for New York children.
As a result of the chronic underfunding of child care, the LWC is calling on the Governor to create a Child Care Task Force to examine current needs across the state and determine where budget investments, as well as comprehensive policy changes, should be made.
"When only 17% of eligible children are receiving a subsidized child care slot, something clearly needs to be done," said Lupardo. "The LWC looks forward to providing input into the makeup of the task force whose recommendations should factor into next year's budget discussions."
The Legislative Womens Caucus will continue advocating for these issues, as well as the creation of this new task force through the remainder of this legislative session. The LWC is made up of the 58 women elected to the Senate and Assembly, representing both parties.