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Child care advocates raise concerns about expiring federal grant

Corie Howell
via Flickr

As many as 250,000 children across New York state could lose access to child care if an expiring pandemic relief grant is not replaced.

Child Care Solutions Executive Director Anne Napper said if an area doesn’t have available and affordable child care, it hurts the whole community.

"Parents will either be forced to quit their job or forced to decrease the number of hours that they work, so they can stay home with their children," said Napper.

And now, child care advocates are on high alert, as an American Rescue Plan grand that provided about $24 billion to child care providers is set to expire at the end of September. They said, statewide, 5,700 child care centers are at risk of closing.

Napper said she’s worried about how that will affect central New Yorkers.

"When you look at the standalone daycares, and especially those standalone family and family group daycare centers, they're the ones that we're a little more concerned about because they have more budget constraints,” she said.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said she’s also concerned and is co-sponsoring the Child Care Stabilization Act in hopes it will help replace the expiring grant. The act would provide $16 billion each year for the next five years to help child care providers stay in business. It’s designed to help them cover the costs of things including wages, benefits, utilities, and supplies.

"Making sure parents have affordable access to childcare is essential. It allows them to succeed in their careers and continue contributing to our national economy," she said.

Napper said, it sounds promising.

"It gives centers an opportunity to build. To build their programs, to hire and retain staff, to work in conjunction with Child Care Solutions to provide that professional development."

While Gillibrand is still working to get Republican support for her legislation, she hopes it will be passed by the end of the year, possibly in a year-end omnibus bill.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.