New York State Exposed Follow-up: Daycare drain

Updated: 06/16/2014 7:12 PM
Created: 06/16/2014 8:42 AM WHEC.com
By: Amanda Ciavarri

New York State is the second most expensive in the country when it comes to daycare. Because of that, parents are forced to find other options, meaning fewer kids in the daycare centers. With half empty classrooms, daycare centers have to fire staff or raise prices.

This problem of high daycare costs impacts everyone, even if you don't have children. If parents can't afford daycare, some may have to quit their jobs and they would be forced to go on welfare, meaning your tax dollars will pay for them. But one lawmaker says relief could be on the horizon if the governor gives the okay.

Joi Digennaro-McMurtry is the executive director of the Friendship Children's Center in Rochester. Her half empty classroom shows that parents just can't afford to send their children to daycare. She said, "We are taking away from our working class. Everybody talks about how they want everyone to be working, and have a job. 'How dare they sit around and don't work.' Well they want to work, they are prepared to work but when they have a job they have nowhere to leave their child."

The cost of sending your baby to daycare will run you close to $15,000 a year -- that's about $1,200 a month. Why is the cost so high in New York State? Daycare centers are small businesses. We've reported before about all the high taxes and fees small businesses pay in New York and then add insurance for every child at daycare.

So what's being done to help families? We took that question to Assembly woman Donna Lupardo. She is the chair of the Children and Families Committee.

Lupardo says there is a bill waiting for the governor's signature. Right now, that would change the way daycare is run in the state and help working parents. "We want the business community to own some of this problem. They are starting to figure out that when children come to school unprepared, they end up being employees that are unprepared."
Here's what that means if the bill passes. If a business gets startup money or money to create jobs from the state, they will have to use a portion of that to provide daycare for workers.

Lupardo says getting children quality daycare is critical because studies show 75-percent of brain growth occurs before a child turns five.

We asked Lupardo if this would come to fruition or if this is something that will be talked about. She said, "Absolutely, we are absolutely going to talk about it. We are already talking with the governor's office about it. I am in direct talks with them about the bill that we just passed. The governor has shown a lot of leadership with putting money toward universal pre-k. We are now saying you can just step back and reach children at that earlier stage."

This bill would help kids down the road but what about these kids and their families who need help right now?

Lupardo said, "What do we do know, what can the middle class, this forgotten class do to afford do now to be able to afford daycare. Honestly they should be becoming more involved in the electoral process, they should be questioning people who run for office on every level about what their position is on children and childcare, not just rhetoric, what are they prepared to do."

We reached out to Cuomo's office to see if he plans to sign the bill. According to an e-mail from his office, the bill is on its way to his office for consideration.

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