NEW YORK (WWTI) — State Universities in New York are launching an initiative to expand high-quality child care on their campuses. During the 2020-2021 academic year, SUNY provided 1,200 student parents with more than 4,000 child care spots amongst the 46 SUNY campuses that have a child care center onsite. 

To continue these services, on August 2 the State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras launched a comprehensive initiative to expand high-quality child care at SUNY campus centers and eliminate child care deserts across SUNY. The initiative will focus on four actions to benefit students in the SUNY system as well as the community.

The SUNY Child Care Paid Internship Program allows students in early childhood degree programs to gain valuable hands-on experience. This is especially helpful for students who cannot afford to participate in unpaid internships, and is modeled after successful programs at other universities. SUNY will spend $500,000 on the new scholarship program to employ 100 paid interns for about 20 hours a week. These interns will be paid the standard minimum wage in the area.

SUNY System Administration will give the Office of Children and Family Services access to $100 million in grants to increase and expand licensed child care capacity in child care deserts. The federal government has also made $1.1 billion available to existing facilities to support child care programs and help facilities that experienced hardships because of the COVID pandemic.

Another part of the initiative is to have centers that are unarguably high quality, which can be proven by achieving accreditation with the National Association for the Education of Young Children or have centers participate in QUALITYstarsNY. Currently, 70% of SUNY campus child care centers have accomplished this standard, and $125,000 from SUNY will be used to improve the quality of those campus child care centers that have not yet received the honor.

Chancellor Malatras said the program will benefit those in the SUNY community in many ways.

“Essential to our SUNY for All campaign is breaking down barriers to accessing higher education. The lack of child care is a major barrier for our student parents who must choose child care over classes, or faculty who want to teach but face constraints because of the lack of child care,” Malatras said. “Investing in child care is not only good for the individual student, it makes economic sense. We have tens of thousands of open jobs in New York State and we need to close skill gaps to get individuals into the workforce. They shouldn’t have to choose between child care and economic opportunity. Our program will go a long way of leveraging federal dollars to meet the child care needs of those who need it. Our program is a win-win for expanding child care and educational opportunities for every student.”

SUNY will also be launching an awareness campaign to help connect current SUNY campus child care center employees to existing scholarship programs in order to retain employees.

The program will work to provide relief for students with children and contribute to the community as parents will be able to focus on their studies and graduate. As a result, they will be able to fill positions in the community that need qualified and educated workers.

The Chancellor’s Office will be making a system-wide application available for students to apply for the SUNY child care centers.