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How New York's 'Historic' State Budget Reboots Child Care

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Courtesy of Save the Children
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A total of $2.3 billion has been set aside for child care services in New York’s state budget for next year. Advocates say the funding is historic for a system stressed during the pandemic.

The first thing to understand about New York’s $2.3 billion child care budget, is that it’s three times the size of what it historically has been. Under previous stimulus packages, child care funding was limited and riddled with red tape. Child care providers didn’t get money up front, and had to apply for reimbursements.

But they really needed the cash, said Jenn O'Connor, director of policy and advocacy at Prevent Child Abuse NY.

“We heard horror stories about providers taking out lines of credit, not being able to pay staff. This, I think, will be a much more streamlined, efficient initiative,” O'Connor said.

In the new budget, over half of the pot — $1.3 billion — will go directly to child care providers in the form of stabilization grants.

O'Connor said it gives providers the flexibility to use the money for a lot of things.

“Rent, facility maintenance and improvements, mental health supports, and that money can also be used to pay staff and increase wages,” O'Connor said.

Advocates say now they’re waiting for more details, but they’re already reimagining a stronger and more equitable child care system for New York.