Forty-seven New York state lawmakers signed onto a letter released Monday calling for billions of additional dollars in child care funding as part of Gov. Kathy Hochul's $216 billion budget plan.
The push by the legislators, backed by state Sen. Jabari Brisport, comes amid the state budget season getting underway in Albany, and also after the COVID-19 pandemic has led to calls from advocates and lawmakers themselves for a broader effort to improve child care programs in the state.
All told, lawmakers are seeking $5 billion in the budget as a "meaningful investment" for universal access.
"We, legislators representing every corner of New York State, are disappointed by Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget proposals, which fall short of meeting the needs of New York’s children, families, and child care providers," the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
Specifically, the lawmakers are calling for expanded access to child care subsidies for infants to school-age children, regardless or employment or immigration status. They are also seeking pay increases for workers in the child care sector. And they want to increase the child care provider reimbursement rate in order to expand the "infrastructure" of the system.
"A failure to meaningfully invest in child care ignores the urgent needs of the state’s economy struggling with severe staff shortages that are partially due to the lack of access to affordable child care," the lawmakers wrote. "We look forward to working collaboratively with the Governor to make the final budget one that adequately meets the needs of New York’s parents and children and finally gives child care providers and the child care workforce what they deserve and have been deprived of for decades."