NYS to give $70M to reverse ‘child care deserts’

New York State is providing $70 million to help reverse the what’s called “child care deserts,” where there are few options for children under 5.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said funding will be available to newly licensed, registered or permitted child care programs in areas in New York areas that lack sufficient child care slots.

Long Island is dotted with child care deserts, a plight that is more prevalent in low-income communities, and in communities of color, according to Center for American Progress. But new child care providers can direct the funds to build their programs,  cover start-up and personnel costs, recruit, train, and retain staff, and support staff in accessing COVID-19 vaccines.

“Child care is one of the most critical engines to build back New York stronger from the pandemic, and it will provide countless opportunities for working parents,” Hochul said in a statement about the funding.

“These federal funds will go a long way towards ensuring that no New Yorkers will be without child care,” the governor added. “New York will always remain committed to eradicating the problems of child care deserts and will work tirelessly to ensure all parents have access to this vital lifeline.”

The funds are part of the $100 million child care desert initiative approved in the 2021 Enacted Budget. These funds will be available through the American Rescue Plan Act and will be administered by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, or OCFS.

On Long Island, 71 percent of the children under age 6 in Nassau or Suffolk counties live in a home in which all the adults are working, according to a 2021 report by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council. But with the average cost of licensed care as much as $17,000 for each child, based on the age, each year, most families must spend about 30 percent of their income or more, according to the report.

Grant applications will open in mid-April and run through May 19, 2022—with award announcements slated for June.

All applicants must complete the OCFS online orientation before applying for the grant. See the OCFS website for more information. Programs applying to become a NYC DOHMH Article 47 day care center must attend a pre-permit orientation before applying for a new permit.

Applicants needing assistance with starting child care programs can contact the OCF’s Long Island regional office for support.

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