The Chautauqua Child Care Council has heard you say that, "Day One: Everything Changes" and we look forward to working with you from Day One to effect positive change for young children and families in New York State.
The mission of the Chautauqua Child Care Council is to foster collaborative relationships in order to build a strong responsive child care support system meeting the needs of all of Chautauqua County’s families, child care providers, businesses and communities. One way we meet our mission is to provide information to elected officials regarding the impact of government funds on the child care options available to working families.
The early childhood support system is supported by a patchwork of funding of which TANF monies, federal Child Care Development Block Grant monies, OCFS funding, the Department of Health’s Child and Adult Care Food Program and the State Education Department’s Universal and Experimental Pre-Kindergarten are the primary sources. Each of these funding streams has different primary objectives, sometimes making it difficult for providers and communities to meet the needs of families.
Overall there must be an array of options available to meet the needs of families and those options must be affordable. Different families have different needs: care for sick children, pre-school options for children ready to begin a more formal educational process, small group settings for children not yet developmentally ready for formalized education, care that is available outside of regular school hours to support varied work schedules, part-time care for families who can be at home and provide important bonding time.
Winning Beginning NY, a coalition in support of children birth-to-five and their families, has suggested establishing an Early Learning Commission to develop a plan of action to bring coordination to early care and education programs and services. This could help coordinate the efforts of various state agencies as they provide services to our youngest children. As an example why better coordination could be useful: right now the NYSED is looking at changing the certification requirements for an early care educator. While no one will dispute those that educate our children should be highly qualified, making these changes in isolation can have a ripple effect in the child care community:
• Currently pre-schools are not regulated unless they are operated in conjunction with a grade school or if they volunteer to be regulated (fewer than one hundred in the state volunteer); will all pre-schools need to meet this requirement?
• What of the responsibility of the State to insure pre-schools meet basic health, safety, and developmentally appropriate practice standards as day care centers and family day care providers must?
• If only regulated pre-schools need to meet the requirement for certified educators, a tiered system of pre-school quality will emerge based on what districts are able to qualify for Universal Pre-K funds and what students get into the program
• If Universal Pre-K is expanded, the financial viability of child care providers can be impacted as they lose children from their programs, potentially causing some of these providers to go out of business and reducing available options for families needing care outside of regular school hours
• If Universal Pre-K is expanded in its current format of providing programming during the traditional school day, families may feel forced to send their children to “keep up with the Joneses” though that time is the best time for a parent working second or third shift to spend time with her or his child and develop an important lifelong bond.
• OCFS recently updated the regulation of informal care providers (those exempt from registration) receiving LDSS subsidies; almost half of the state funding of the Chautauqua Child Care Council, the local resource and referral agency, is now dedicated to serving legally exempt providers, potentially reducing the options for families by focusing on legally exempt providers and effectively reducing funding for the support of licensed/registered providers
• Child care providers in our County are paid the minimum set by law for subsidized care: 75% of local market rate; if the new certification regulations take effect and funding is not changed, either the gap will widen between educational programs and child care programs or child care providers will go out of business if they can’t afford to hire bachelor level staff when competing against school districts paying higher wages
Thank you for the opportunity to share some of the issues regarding child care in our state. Our commitment remains to work with all stakeholders as New York moves forward. We are ready and willing to work with your administration to better meet the needs of the citizens of Chautauqua County and the State. The Chautauqua Child Care Council is available as a resource as you serve your youngest constituents.
William A. Vogt, Director
Chautauqua Child Care Council
- Submitted by William Vogt on 12.03.06