Work of child care task force lost into the ‘ether of state government’

By Published On: April 2nd, 2024Categories: Capitol Notes

When Gov. Kathy Hochul approved an extension of the state’s Child Care Availability Task Force in 2021, she wrote in an approval memo that the stakeholders would be “integral in advising the state.”

“(The task force) will help guide decisions to better meet the needs of working families across the state,” Hochul wrote.

But the group may not have any formal input into this year’s budget debate, as a report due from the task force at the end of 2023 hasn’t been produced and the Hochul administration has no official timeline for when the work of the task force will be published. Non-governmental members of the task force have become frustrated by the delay, as they hoped their report would be used to influence the governor’s budget proposal.

“There was a draft, which was very clear about the prioritization of the workforce, and now we’re knee deep in budget negotiations and it would have been nice to have those recommendations out in front of electeds,” said a task force member.

That prioritization of additional resources for permanent wage increases of child care workers is contrary to the governor’s push  for one-time investments into the industry’s workforce.

At the December 11, 2023 meeting of the task force, the final public meeting of the group, the members agreed on the content of the report, according to video of the meeting and interviews with task force members. Task force member Larry Marx, CEO of The Children’s Agenda, who served on a writing subgroup for the task force, said the final product just needed some “fine touches” from Hochul administration staffers in December.

“We do think that we completed our task and it has just disappeared into the ether of state government at the moment,” Marx said in an interview.

The timeline in the 2021 legislation extending the life of the Child Care Availability Task Force was written intentionally to ensure that child care experts would have their voices formally included in this year’s budget process. Marx said the Hochul administration has indicated the final report will be out after this year’s budget is adopted.

Representatives from the state Department of Labor and Office of Children and Family Services did not provide on-the-record explanations of the delay or when a report would be publicized.

The task force’s first report was also produced months after it was expected. The task force has no meetings scheduled for 2024.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Democratic state Assembly members Sarah Clark and Andrew Hevesi inquired to DOL and OCFS about the status of the CCATF report.

A copy of the letter is available below.

“It is now more than three months later, and the report still has not been released,” the members wrote. “This delay is depriving lawmakers the opportunity to consider the recommendations of the experts on the CCATF – including the many child care educators and parent appointees – as we make final decisions on the budget.”

4.3.24 CCATF Letter.docx by Capitol Pressroom on Scribd