Study: Monroe County has lost 69 childcare programs, 1,700 spots, since before pandemic

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — If you’re a working parent, you’ve likely had your share of challenges finding childcare, spots were tight before the pandemic but a new study shows just how many we’ve lost since. 

Armett Barnes runs Armett’s Care and Share Family Daycare in East Irondequoit. “We did not know what COVID meant, I didn’t know what it meant for my program I had no clue, it was very overwhelming,” she tells News10NBC.  She stayed afloat during the pandemic with the help of stabilization grants offered by the state and county. “I’m not sure if I would be standing here if we didn’t have it,” Barnes says.

For months, Barnes’ phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from families looking to see if she has any open spots, she doesn’t. “A lot of times the people that I know that are really great providers, they’re full too so that’s the issue,” she says.

Or, the providers are just no longer open.  The Children’s Agenda just finished a study on the current childcare situation across New York State.  It found that statewide, there are 1,326 fewer childcare programs than there were before the pandemic which amounts to 10,554 fewer spots for children with parents who need to work. 

Monroe County lost 69 childcare programs leaving 1,694 few spots for children.  For the providers that closed that Barnes knows she says it came down to one thing. “Employees, employees, it is hard to retain employees,” she says.

NYS tried to help with that by offering grant programs to help raise the pay of childcare workers but the funding was temporary. “It doesn’t change the underlying reality of the fact that here in Monroe County the average childcare worker makes about $30,000 a year that’s one of the lowest paying jobs in our community for some of the most important work,” says Pete Nabozny of The Children’s Agenda. 

Until that changes, we may continue to lose options and the timing couldn’t be worse.  NYS expanded a grant program that helps parents pay for childcare in this year’s state budget, so it’s likely, even more, will be looking for care. “Childcare can be affordable [with the grant] but if it’s not accessible it’s not really meeting the needs of those families,” Nabozny adds.

To read the full report, click here.

To learn more about childcare subsidies for parents, click here.

For help finding a provider.