State budget funding to improve child care crisis

"I have families in here who struggle to pay"
Posted at 5:42 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 17:42:41-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Historic funding is provided in the new New York State budget with income eligibility levels to increase allowing more than half of young children living in the state to be eligible for childcare.

The newly passed budget calls for $7 billion over four years.

At the Jumped Up Jellybeans Daycare Center on Hertel Avenue in north Buffalo, owner and director Danielle Kinsman plays with some of her younger clients.

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Jumped Up Jellybeans Daycare Center on Hertel Avenue in north Buffalo.

75% of the children at her daycare center are paid through Erie County daycare subsidy.

Kinsman has been keeping a close eye on budget details for child care funding that will help families.

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Danielle Kinsman, owner & director, Jumped Up Jellybeans Daycare Center.

“I’m super excited about them raising the limit for the families because I have families in here who struggle to pay,” Kinsman remarked. “And the family situation — how much it pulls on my heartstrings."

The newly passed state spending plan calls to boost child care subsidies from 200 to 300% of the federal poverty level.

Sheri Scavone, CEO, WNY Women’s Foundation, in Zoom interview.

“Which means a family of three can be earning $70,000 and still get assistance with very expensive child care,” explained Sheri Scavone, CEO, WNY Women’s Foundation.

The state budget includes three areas to improve child care for families and providers:

  • Increase eligibility for parents
  • Increase funding child care providers receive
  • Increase wages for daycare workers

“They are the second lowest-paid occupation in the state. Most of them getting paid minimum wage or by the time they put the hours in, even less,” Scavone noted.

“And if you can't afford to pay people to stay, they will leave and go to Burger King for three, four dollars more than I can afford to pay them,” replied Kinsman.

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Daycare workers inside Jumped Up Jellybeans Daycare Center.

But the daycare provider says if she does receive the funding to boost employee pay she questions if she is able to sustain herself in future years.

“That's the thing that I worry about. They all deserve more money to do what they've done, but when the funding is over — how do you tell them — ‘I’m sorry I have to take your pay away’,” Kinsman responded.

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Children sleeping at Jumped Up Jellybeans Daycare Center.

As for when providers and families might be able to tap into the child care help Scavone says the eligibility increase is supposed to start August 1st, but some of the child care budget items are not published yet and the “devil is in the detail.”

Advocates say this has to be a long-term commitment to ease the child care crisis and it's important for the federal government to also offer support with hopes of creating universal child care in the future.