The state will start distributing $2 billion in funds to expand and enhance childcare in the Empire State, on the heels of passing a state budget earlier this year that doubled state support for the youngest New Yorkers, Governor Kathy Hochul announced Friday.
Hochul made the announcement on May 20 at the Hebrew Educational Society in Canarsie, a neighborhood where much of the population lives in a “childcare desert.”
“We can no longer turn our eyes away from what has really just shown up so vividly,” said the governor. “The crisis that families, particularly moms, are going through.”
The distribution, the first phase of a four-year, $7 billion childcare investment, will see the state raise its eligibility threshold for childcare subsidies from 200% of the federal poverty line to 300%, or an $83,250 income for a family of four, which the governor claims would allow 400,000 additional kids to access high-quality childcare.
$343 million in “stabilization grants” will go directly to providers so they can increase employees’ wages and provide them bonuses and better benefits, the governor said, while $50 million in capital grants will go towards the construction of new childcare facilities or renovations to existing ones.
With so much more money flowing into the sector, the state will now start wading through about 1,700 new applications by providers to open new childcare facilities. The governor said that the state will focus particularly on opening centers in childcare deserts, where the number of eligible children greatly exceeds the number of available childcare slots. In New York City, 57% of Census tracts are located in childcare deserts, with greater proportions seen particularly in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.
“No woman should have to deal with the stress of making a decision, if they want to work, have to work, but they just don’t know who’s going to take care of their baby,” Hochul said, after recounting her own experience as a young mom who had to quit her job because she couldn’t find childcare. “Now in the State of New York, we have prioritized those babies and those children, to make sure that they get world-class care.”