The $164 million in federal child care money New York received in the CARES Act last spring appears to be just a drop in the bucket compared to what is likely on the way.
Last week, the Cuomo administration submitted a plan on how to spend more than $460 million in federal child care money that was approved in December, and – speaking on The Capitol Pressroom – Assembly Children and Families Committee Chair Andrew Hevesi said Thursday that New York is now in line to get more than $1.2 billion in additional child care funding from the stimulus being debated by congressional Democrats.
Depending on how the state utilizes this money, Hevesi believes New York could positively overhaul its outdated child care system.
“I am viewing child care as the one positive thing we can build out of COVID,” he said. “That’s how much of an opportunity I think we have in front of us.”
And so far, based on his reading of what the state has submitted to the Biden administration on how it would spend the December stimulus, Hevesi is feeling positive. “That plan really does use … that first tranche of money in a smart way,” he said.
The state Office of Children and Family Services has so far refused to make its outline for the December funding public.
Hevesi, echoing the sentiments of child care stakeholders, wants to use federal funding to make child care co-payments more affordable, provide grants to providers, change the reimbursement formula for absences and expand eligibility for child care subsidies.
He did acknowledge the potential to screw up this opportunity by using the funds all at once for one-time expenditures, as opposed to sustainability building out changes to the system.
“You don’t spend all of it. You sustain it over a couple of years,” Hevesi said. “And my sincerest hope … is you attach a (state) funding stream to this”
Hevesi also noted that the child care proposals in the governor’s January budget proposal reflect the recommendations of the state’s Child Care Availability Task Force, which submitted a report in 2020 that has been buried so far by the Cuomo administration. Three weeks ago, OCFS Commissioner Sheila Poole told state lawmakers during a budget hearing that the report would be released “very very soon.”