Maher, Minority Colleagues Calling Attention to Childcare Deserts

Assemblyman Brian Maher (R,C-Walden), Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C-Black River) and other Minority colleagues signed on to a letter to Suzanne Miles-Gustave, acting commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services to raise their concerns about the growing problem of childcare deserts in the state. Childcare problems are growing to crisis levels impacting mid- and low-income families and rural families the most.

“So many families rely on two incomes, which makes childcare all the more important in our modern society, but there are many parts of our state that are lacking qualified affordable childcare. While I applaud the Child Care Desert Grant, some of its own bureaucratic rules are hindering its goal to lower costs to starting childcare businesses and ensuring quality care,” said Maher, who sits on the Committee on Children and Families. “I feel that even a simple adjustment in benchmark deadlines could alleviate these stumbling blocks in the program and would lead to more successful launchings of childcare businesses in this grant program and in areas that desperately need this service.”

Childcare deserts are defined as census tracts that have three or more children under the age of five per available childcare slot. This would put 60% of New York state in the category of childcare desert. A map of New York’s childcare deserts can be found here.

Maher and members note that while the Child Care Desert Grant program offers some success, it has created additional barriers for providers making it difficult for them to take advantage of the grant program. Namely, timelines are unrealistic and penalizations for missing these unrealistic expectations are excessive. For example, new grant recipients are expected to open the business within 120 days, however, on average, it can take six months to launch the operation. The legislators proposed to Acting Commissioner Miles-Gustave to extend the 120-day deadline to help improve outcomes of the grant program leading to better outcomes for families who need the childcare.

"As a father with two small children in daycare full time, I can attest to the fact that we had to reserve our spots almost one year in advance. In my district we have had childcare facilities shutting their doors due to the bureaucracy of New York State and the challenges involved in being a provider. These situations leave families, in my district and throughout the state, scrambling. We must do better for New York families and I am willing to work with the Governor, our state agencies and members on both sides of the aisle to address this issue immediately,” said Maher.