Parents pushing for ‘Test to Stay’ for daycare centers

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A group of parents in the Finger Lakes region are petitioning Gov. Kathy Hochul to make changes to the current "Test to Stay" guidelines, which are specific to child daycare centers.

Parents say they’re still being charged child care fees even when their children are home in isolation or quarantine. News10NBC hears how this is creating a major hardship for some.

Hochul said she understands parents’ frustrations, especially when it comes to there being no "Test to Stay" options for daycare-aged children.

"We’re analyzing this, and I will look at this is that those children are not as safe as children who have been vaccinated 5 years, and up. That to me is the difference," Hochul said.

Issues have been raised by parents like Rachel Hardy of Phelps, who say if their child’s daycare is closed for a pandemic-related issue, they’re still required to pay child care fees while looking for alternative child care.

"You have to see if you even have anyone to watch your child, and then if you don’t you can’t go to work which also puts where you work in an issue, because then they have lower staff, and right now because of everything, everyone is short-staffed," Hardy said.

Parents that can work from home say it’s just not easy.

Stephen Hegel from Seneca Falls said, "I love my kids, but I can’t work to 100-percent potential with my kids around. Nobody can, I don’t care who they are."

Both parents have children being cared for at Jack & Jill Child Care Center. Kelley Barg, the Center’s Director sympathizes with the parents to an extent.

"Fees are due regardless because it’s a business, and in order for the business to stay operating the fees need to be collected," Barg said.

She also says since "Test to Stay" works on the grade school level, daycares should have the same opportunities to test the children.

"If these guidelines could change to allow our children to "test to stay," then I wouldn’t have to turn away healthy children that are testing negative from the program," Barg said.

News10NBC also talked Renee Scholz from the Child Care Council. She told us that low-income parents here in Monroe County can apply for some child care subsidies through the County. Parents that earn above the income guidelines can apply for assistance through the Workforce Development Institute.