by Dan Schrack
Tuesday, April 19th 2022
Rochester, N.Y. — As the state works to bounce back from the pandemic, a multibillion-dollar investment is being made to support the growth of future generations.
The goal is to make childcare more accessible, but the funding could also help reduce the rising poverty level.
Like most parents, Stevie Vargas wants the absolute best for her child. As a single mother of one, she says one of the biggest challenges she’s faced since adopting her five-year-old nephew Peyton has been child care.
“And when you have a child through the foster care system, they pay for all the child care expenses. Once you adopt them, they stop paying for that,” she said.
The loss of financial support forced her to pull Peyton from the place he loved.
According to the Economic Police Institute, the average annual cost of infant care in New York is nearly $1,300 a month. For a minimum wage worker, that’s 29 weeks of their gross pay: a massive burden for a family of any size.
And for families at or below the poverty line, the cost makes the service virtually inaccessible.
It’s an issue 13WHAM reported on just last month.
A measure in the new state budget could help address the issue. A $7 billion investment over the next four years expands income eligibility, caps co-pays, and increases the market rate, broadening the child care options available. Additional funding by way of grants is meant to help child care providers.
“And in particular, dedicating 75% of that money to support the incredibly underpaid caregivers who care for the next generation of our society,” explained Larry Marx, CEO of The Children’s Agenda.
Vargas says had this budget been in place when her nephew’s adoption was finalized, life may have been a little easier.
“It means I wouldn’t be stressed out all the time trying to navigate working and also accessing child care. I’d already have it,” she said.
For more information on child care supports, check out 211 and Monroe County’s list of resources.
The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.