Child Care Council of Suffolk believes that during this time of the economic downturn New York State must ensure that parents have access to high-quality early care and learning programs. These programs are essential for children’s success and the economic recovery of our county. Child Care Council of Suffolk works closely with Child Care Council of Nassau to advocate for quality care for all children.
A Picture of Long Island’s Children
The 2012 American Fact Finder (Bureau of the Census) reports that in Suffolk County
- There are approximately 85,673 children under the age of 5
- Approximately 96,235 children are ages 5-9.
- Approximately 106,363 children are ages 10-14, and 107,056 are 15-19.
- 2.2% of families with 1 or 2 children are living below the poverty level
- 9.7% of families with 3-4 children are living below the poverty level
- 21.4 of families with 5 or more children are living below the poverty level
The 2009 Long Island Index (has not yet been updated to 2013) reported that
- There is capacity to serve approximately 61,841 children in regulated early childhood setting on Long Island.
- 75% of families using regulated child care are paying more than 10 percent of their household income on that care. The average annual cost of a licensed child care program is more than $13,000 per child in Suffolk County. It is even more expensive for children under the age of two.
- A 2012 LI Index report states that quality child care is inconsistent. It stresses the need to improve coordination among providers. The study also recommends professional development for providers, establishing incentives for providers to participate in New York State’s Quality Stars program, and specific actions to improve access. Most important is the need for parents to recognize the value of early childhood services.
Suffolk County increased the subsidy eligibility level in July 2014 to 165% of poverty level. This should result in the number of child care subsidy slot increasing in 2014.
We support the Governor’s proposal to add $21 million for child care. We are, however, asking for 182 million to make up for the loss of federal funds and prevent the loss of child care subsidies for children across the state. This would help in stabilizing the early childhood system and strengthening key economic support for working Suffolk and Nassau families.
Even with this aid Long Island families have experienced:
- Increased parent fees
- Fewer available subsidies
- Fewer child care options as programs struggle with rate changes and delayed payments
We urge New York to continue building on the $21 million increase. It is critical that the state continue to focus on early childhood and strengthen the child care system in the coming years.
We urge New York to move forward with implementing QUALITYstarsNY (QSNY). QSNY is a quality rating system that will provide program improvement support to early childhood programs and offer parents the tools and information to make informed choices about early childhood programs. Field tests have been conducted and funding is needed for the first year of implementation.
Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) and After-School Programs
We support the decision of the Executive Budget Committee to commit to investing $1.5 billion over 5 years to support the phase-in of Statewide UPK programs. These will be full day programs and focus first on high-need students.
The Executive Budget has a similar 5 year plan to expand after-school programs in New York State. $720 million will be distributed during this 5 year period to add or expand after-school programs. This will provide more enrichment opportunities for students who need to be in child care after regular school hours.