Federal funding aims to expand options in New York’s ‘childcare deserts’

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WILLSBORO, NY (WCAX) – New York is making big investments in child care.

Governor Kathy Hochul on Monday announced more than $70 million in grants that will go to 344 new child care providers in New York City.

Hochul said the new provider grants will create more than 12,000 new slots statewide. This includes 592 slots for infants and toddlers, and nearly 500 slots during non-traditional hours.

Hochul called it a transitional moment in New York.

“We have just eased the burden on our families and given the children the chance to be in a nurturing and loving environment where they learn. Day care centers don’t provide child care, they provide that early education for our children,” said Hochul, D-New York.

A State Senate report in December found that 64% of New Yorkers live in a “child care desert” where there are no or insufficient providers to meet families’ needs.

NORTH COUNTRY REACTION TO CHILD CARE SUBSIDIES

It’s opening day for the Clubhouse Day Care Center in Willsboro, New York.

“Able to be 6 weeks to 5 years old,” said Taylor Lorman of the Clubhouse.

It is the only daycare center in Essex County.

“We’re considered a childcare wasteland,” said Clubhouse’s Jennifer Pierce. “There are 14 children per available childcare slot.”

With over 10 years of childcare experience, the team is fit for the job and will now be able to deliver more.

“The goal is to give them safe playgrounds and equipment that will last them a very long time,” Lorman said.

And to offer help to those in need, through the Desert Child Care Grant.

“We’re going to use a large portion to create an endowment fund for a tuition assistance program for our families,” Pierce said.

The grant was awarded to fund new child care programs in child care deserts or places with insufficient child care options.

Federal funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act and is part of the state’s $100 million child care initiative.

The Clubhouse is one of 21 North Country money-making centers or daycares.

They say they have not yet been told how much money they will get from the grant, but $3 million will be distributed across the seven North Country counties.

North Country child care experts have called it “disappointing” that out of $70 million, the North Country receives such a small amount when child care deserts are so common.

They also said the money was not eligible for licensing, which is a barrier preventing many centers or daycares from opening in the area.

Back at the Clubhouse, they say they are grateful for all the help they can get and hope to continue to open their doors to anyone looking for a safe place for their children.

“We want our program to be accessible to everyone, which is one of the reasons the grant is so helpful,” Pierce said.

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