ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Approximately 60% of the state doesn’t have enough child care providers. These child care deserts are present all throughout New York and the Capital Region, based on information released from the Office of Children and Family Services.

To encourage the development of child care programs in areas considered a desert, $70 million in grant money has been made available as part of the $100 million child care desert initiative approved in the 2021 state budget. Funding made possible through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Based on census metrics, areas are given an RFA score. Child care deserts are census tracts (areas) where there are three or more children younger than five years old for each spot available in child care, or there are no spots available. Although areas with a score of between 30-40 are considered child care deserts, only areas with a score of 30 are eligible for the grant.

Capital Region areas available for grant

CountyNumber of areas eligible for grant
(RFA score of 30 points)

“This funding further recognizes the acute shortage of infant and toddler child care and the lack of available child care outside of standard business hours and days,” said OCFS Commissioner Sheila Poole. “We are also ensuring that diversity and equity components are built into the funding opportunity so that communities of color who were hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are prioritized and supported in building back child care slots.”

“Access to child care must not depend upon someone’s zip code. This money will be used to bring child care to parts of the state that have been starved for services,” Chair of the Children and Families Committee Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi.

Grant money can be used for start-up or personnel costs. For help starting a child care program, people can contact their county’s OCFS Regional Office or their local child care resource and referral agency.

Applicants must complete an online orientation before applying. Applications will be accepted from mid-April to May 19. Awards announcements will be made in June.

“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,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “These federal funds will go a long way towards ensuring that no New Yorkers will be without child care.”