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Nassau wins $2M in federal funds to subsidize child care

Nassau County has secured $2 million in federal

Nassau County has secured $2 million in federal funds to support day-care programs for low-income families through September 2021. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Nassau County has secured $2 million in federal funds to support day-care programs for low-income families through September 2021, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday.

Nassau is among 17 counties and cities in the state sharing $20 million from Uncle Sam that will be administered by the state Office of Children and Family Services.

The funds will allow more children to be cared for, so their parents can take full-time jobs, said Sheila J. Poole, state commissioner of children and family services.

“Quality, affordable child care should never be a barrier for families participating in the workforce,” she said. “This funding will further our goal of increasing available subsidized child care in high-need communities in all regions of the state.”

Nassau is the only local community to receive the federal funds. Suffolk County didn't apply for money, according to a spokeswoman for the children and family services office.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said about 5,000 families benefit from Nassau's subsidized day-care programs. The new federal dollars will mean the county "can offer these vital resources to even more families, expanding our ongoing efforts to remove child care as a barrier to pursing employment opportunities,” she said on Tuesday.

In the region, day-care centers and programs generate $800 million in revenue per year and employ about 9,000 people, according to a recent report from the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, a state-appointed panel that makes funding recommendations to Albany.

Day-care costs per pupil range from $14,250 to $18,200 per year. So, the council found that about half the working families in Nassau and Suffolk must spend at least 15% of their pre-tax income on child care. The percentage is higher for single-parent households.

The number of licensed/registered day-care slots on the Island has dropped by 1,000 since 2017 to 82,686. There are 155,795 children under 5 here, with 122,917 in households where all the available caregivers are in the workforce.

Council member Linda Armyn, a top executive at Bethpage Federal Credit Union, estimated that more than 65,000 day-care slots are needed. Long Island suffers from "the high cost of child care and the limited supply of child-care slots," she said last month in Albany.  

The development council wants to expand day-care programs so that all families will be served. Under the proposal, per-pupil cost would be capped at 7% to 10% of a family's pre-tax income, child-care programs wouldn't end at 5 p.m. each day and day-care workers would be paid more.

Armyn, who leads the council's day-care initiative, said, "Once fully implemented after five years, a universal system [of child care] will increase workforce participation. ... It's difficult for working parents to be productive workers without reliable, affordable and accessible child care."

The local council, along with nine others across the state, has recommended day-care projects for some of the $750 million in state tax credits and grants to be awarded next week in the ninth Regional Economic Development Councils' contest.

LI DAY-CARE SUPPLY AND DEMAND

Existing child-care slots: 82,686

Needed child-care slots: About 65,563

SOURCES: Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, NYS Office of Children and Family Services

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