BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW — 80 members of the New York State Legislature demanded Governor Cuomo immediately release federal money designated for emergency relief for child care.
“This is no longer urgent. It is a crisis,” said State Senator George Borrello, (R) 57th District.
The federal government made $163 million of emergency funding available for child care through the CARES Act.
According to the governor's office, back in April, $30 million was released for child care scholarships for essential workers and Personal Protective Equipment for child care centers. Stark said all of the $30 million was not used.
The governor’s office also said in June, $65 million dollars was released strictly for expanding child care centers.
“There were a lot of restrictions around that funding. Those that applied have not heard back yet as to if they're getting those funds or not,” said Beth Starks, executive director of the Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center.
Stark also noted day cares were expected to spend that money up front and would then be reimbursed by the state.
Of the $163 million in emergency funding, $68 million sits waiting to be released and child care centers which aren't expanding are without any help.
“We would love for there to be support for every provider. That's what was needed from the beginning,” Starks said.
“We don't need it in a month. We need it now. We needed it a month ago,” said Kelly Kronbeck, owner of Imagination Station.
That is why state lawmakers, from both sides of the aisle, are calling for Governor Cuomo to release the remaining money. They say our economy depends on it because for every $1 invested in child care, it returns $1.86 in economic impact.
“Without a solid foundation of good child care, our economy will never be able to recover from this devastating pandemic,” Senator Borrello said.
“It just makes sense that we invest in our future,” said Assemblyman Andy Goodell, (R) District 150.
Child care in New York costs on average $14,000 a year. One full day a week costs more than $200 dollars per month. Five full days a week sets families back more than $800 a month. (SOURCE: WNY Women's Foundation)
“I had to drop my son down to part time because I just couldn't afford it. I had to decide I wanted to get groceries instead of my child coming here,” Melanie McAuley, a mom, said.
Western New York was already considered a childcare desert before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The past four months the situation has gotten much worse. Over 50% of my colleagues in Chautauqua County have closed their doors. Nationally, it's estimated that half of them will never reopen again,” Starks said.
The need for more child care spots will only increase once students go back to school. It is estimated 19,000 children PreK though 12-years-old will could need child care in the Buffalo Public Schools. The district has about 33,000 students total. (SOURCE: WNY Women's Foundation)
“It just becomes a bigger problem,” said Starks.