ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Child care for many New York families is a challenge. Some experts predicted the COVID-19 pandemic would cause more daycares to close. That didn’t happen in the Capital Region.
A total of 127 child care facilities closed in 2019. In 2020 and 2021, 116 and 121 closed respectively, based on information on the number of closings obtained from the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) for 11 local counties.
Albany was the only county that lost more facilities in both 2020 (33) and 2021 (33) than it did in 2019 (27). Schoharie County lost two facilities in 2020 compared to one in 2019. Warren County lost eight in 2020 compared to seven in 2019.
Child care facility closures by county
New York already had its share of child care woes before COVID. It has the sixth highest costs nationwide. The average cost of child care is $15,394 a year per child in New York making it unaffordable for minimum wage workers, according to a report by the Empire Center for Justice.
The Alliance for Quality Education worked in conjunction with the state senate to produce a report on the state of child care in New York which found many faults within the system. Child care is deemed inadequate and too expensive. Most New Yorkers live in areas with not enough programs (child care deserts), and child care providers themselves cannot afford to pay staff a decent salary and have limited physical space, according to the report.
There has been a push for increased child care subsidies. An analysis by Columbia University and Robin Hood found that further investments in subsidies could lift 80,000 New Yorkers out of poverty. Robin Hood also found that 62% of New Yorkers support making subsidies for child care more widely available.
To encourage the opening of child care facilities in places that need them most, child care deserts, $70 million in grant money is being handed out. The funding will help providers in child care deserts, with start-up costs or personnel costs.
OCFS is administering the program and has begun accepting applications. Funding is available for qualifying zip codes only and can be found on the OCFS website. Below are the number of zip codes that qualify for the program in each Capital Region county:
|County||Number of areas eligible for grant|
(RFA score of 30 points)
The $70 million is part of a $100 million initiative approved in the 2021 state budget, made possible through the American Rescue Plan Act. OCFS will accept applications for the funding through May 19 and awards are expected to be announced in June. 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.