NYS Assembly Task Force on
Women’s Issues
A Report on the 2006 Legislative Session

Sheldon Silver, Speaker • Barbara Lifton, Chair • Summer 2006
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton
Message from the Chair

Dear Friends:

The Task Force, created in 1981 to give women a greater voice in state government, works closely with women’s groups, community organizations, state agencies and other legislators to propose new legislation, promote passage of pending legislation and advocate for funding of programs serving women. This newsletter provides an overview of Task Force activities and significant legislation passed by the Assembly in the past legislative session. In the 2006 legislative session, the Task Force focused on New York’s child day care system, developing a package of bills to improve oversight of child day care, giving child care providers more say in the state regulations that affect them, and requiring state and local officials to better respond to providers’ needs such as prompt payment and privacy.

We encourage you to contact us with your ideas and concerns on women’s issues. Copies of the bills mentioned in this report are available by clicking here, or by contacting the Task Force at 518-455-3632.

Barbara Lifton, Chair
Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues

NYS Seal

Roundtable on Child Day Care Issues

Access to affordable, quality child care is critically important for working women. In 1950, only one-third of women worked outside the home. Fifty-six years later, the labor force participation rate for mothers with children under 18 is over 70 percent. Women are increasingly working prior to having children, and returning to the workforce while their children are still preschool age.

To meet this demographic shift of mothers into the workplace, the child care system has evolved very rapidly in a short period of time, from informal arrangements by parents to a highly regulated system. In New York State, the 2000 Quality Child Care and Protection Act strengthened the minimum health and safety requirements for day care programs, increasing the number of inspections and doubling fines for violations. Legislation in 2002 added requirements related to swimming pools or other bodies of water on family care home grounds, and administration of medications.

Providers of child care stress that the safety and well-being of children in their care is paramount, but providers and advocacy groups throughout the state have expressed a number of concerns about state oversight, including consistency of inspections and interpretation of regulations, changes in and costs of compliance with regulations, information posted on the OCFS provider website, health care and liability insurance and staffing.

To follow up on these concerns, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues, held a Roundtable on Child Day Care Providers’ Regulatory Issues in Ithaca, New York on November 16, 2005. The Roundtable was co-sponsored by the Assembly Standing Committee on Children and Families, Assemblyman William Scarborough, Chair, and the Assembly Legislative Commission on Skills Development and Career Education, Assemblywoman Joan Christensen, Chair. Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, representing Broome County, also attended. A panel of invited child care experts and providers from Tompkins, Cortland and Broome counties, representing local Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, child care providers and provider associations (representing all types of day care models), local social services districts, the regional office of the NYS Office of Children and Family Services, and advocacy groups, along with Suzanne Zafonte Sennett, Director of the Bureau of Early Childhood Services for the NYS Office of Children and Family Services, discussed a variety of issues related to the oversight of child care.

Subsequent to the Roundtable, a package of six bills addressing issues identified by the participants was developed and introduced by Assemblymembers Lifton and Scarborough. These bills were passed by the Assembly in June 2006. As noted below, three of the bills are sponsored in the Senate by Senator James L. Seward. The Senate did not act on these bills this year. The complete text of the bills is available by clicking here or upon request to the Task Force on Women’s Issues (518-455-3632.) We welcome any comments on this important legislation.

Facts About Child Day Care in New York State

According to the National Child Care Information Center state profile for New York, the state has almost 4 million children under 14 years of age. 54.4% of children under six live with working parents, and 63.6% of children ages 6-17 live with working parents.
  • In 2004, New York State had 14,438 licensed family child care homes and 4,653 licensed child care centers. Regulated early care and education programs in New York serve more than 622,000 children. There may also be tens of thousands more children in care settings that are not regulated, such as child care arrangements with a friend, family or neighbor.

  • The average annual wage for a child care provider in New York State is $19,480, earning a salary roughly 20 percent lower than the average wage for preschool teachers and one-third the average wage of a kindergarten teacher in the state.1 An estimated 119,000 people work in the state’s regulated child care industry. Turnover rates are estimated to be high, at more than 30 percent.

  • The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) is charged by state law with regulating, licensing/registering, and monitoring child care settings that meet the state definition of child care.

  • Types of licensed and registered care include day care centers, school age child care programs (supervision for children before and after school and outside normal school hours), group family day care (care for up to 14 children in a provider’s home), and registered family day care programs (care for up to eight children in a provider’s home).

  • All child care programs must be inspected prior to initial licensing or registration. The application process also includes background screenings against the state’s criminal history, child abuse, and child care licensing data bases, checked references, documentation of staff qualifications, and completion of necessary training.

  • Once licensed, every day care center and group family day care center must be inspected at least once during every two-year licensing period as part of the renewal process. The minimum requirement for registered school-age child care programs and registered family care providers is that half of all facilities must be inspected every year.

  • New York is one of only three states in the country where local districts have the primary responsibility for supervising and administering child care subsidies. The state guarantees subsidies to families receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), to families transitioning off TANF, and to families who have opted to receive child care subsidies in lieu of Temporary Assistance. Beyond that, each social services district establishes its own priorities for allocating subsidy money to families with incomes of up to 200% of the federal poverty level. Family contributions to the cost of child care may be assessed on a sliding scale – between 10 and 35% of income over the state income standard. If families choose a provider whose rates exceed the state’s market rate, the parent must pay the difference.

  • Federal regulations stipulate that states must set payment rates for child care providers who service subsidized children at a level adequate to provide families who use a child care subsidy with the same access to child care as those families who pay for child care out-of-pocket. To set payment rates, OCFS surveys the child care market every two years, setting the reimbursement rate for subsidized care at 75% of market rates, the minimum requirement set by the federal government. Rates for legally-exempt providers are currently set at 70% of the rate for registered family day care providers.

1. Investing in New York: An Economic Analysis of the Early Care and Education Sector. A report by the Cornell University Department of City and Regional Planning for the New York State Child Care Coordinating Council. April, 2004,

Assembly Child Day Care Bill Package

A.1130-A/Lifton: improves community relations between the Office of Children and Family Services and child care providers by creating a volunteer 16-member advisory council of child care providers to:
  • identify and review child care issues, state policies and programs which directly or indirectly affect child care, and recommend the adoption of new, or the modification of existing, policies and programs;

  • recommend ways to ensure child protection in day care;

  • advise the Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner on ways to promote the financial, business and training requirements of providing child day care;

  • recommend changes to data day care providers use; and

  • recommend improvements to the child day care subsidy system.

A.11131-B/Lifton; S.7901-A/Seward: protects the location of child care providers online by giving the provider the option to decide whether or not the Office of Children and Family Services puts the address on the Internet.

A.11132-A/Lifton: provides for an informal appeals process following Office of Children and Family Service inspection visits and prior to posting a record of the violation in the Office’s public database of providers.

A.11133-A/Lifton; S.7897-A/Seward: requires the Office of Children and Family Services to study the recruitment and retention of child care providers and to:

  • assess the supply and demand for child day care, including subsidized child day care slots;

  • determine staff turnover rates at child day care homes;

  • pinpoint reasons for leaving the business;

  • determine the use of unlicensed providers and the quality of care provided; and

  • recommend steps to increase retention and recruitment of child day care providers.

A.11134-A/Lifton; S.7902-A/Seward: requires the Office of Children and Family Services to study the availability, accessibility and affordability of insurance policies for child care providers.

A.11572/Scarborough: Requires local social services districts to reimburse child care providers within 30 days after receiving an invoice and to tell the provider within 15 days of any discrepancies in the bill. Districts must pay interest if the reimbursement is late and must provide a written notice within 10 days when canceling payments. Since child care subsidies help provide child care for working families who otherwise couldn’t afford the help, requiring prompt payment of the subsidies means the provider doesn’t have to wait months to get paid and the working parent isn’t in danger of losing this needed care.

Significant Legislation of Interest to Women

Minority and Women-owned Businesses

Several important legislative changes were made in this year’s budget to improve the Minority-and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) program. The state certification p rocess was streamlined for businesses whose eligibility has been established through a federal agency certification program or certification provided by Albany and Onondaga Counties or the cities of Buffalo and New York City. The Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development is required to establish a statewide advocate for the MWBE program, to increase awareness of the program.

The Department of Economic Development is also required to conduct a Disparity Study to document the experience of businesses participating in the MWBE program and whether or not the goals of the program are being achieved.

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking involves the enslavement of people against their will by means of force or threat for the purpose of sexual or labor exploitation. According to the United States Department of State, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. Federal statistics on trafficking victims have found that 65 percent are women, with the largest concentrations found in California, Arizona, Illinois, Texas and New York.

Under current state law, prosecuting human trafficking is difficult. Existing statutes such as kidnapping and coercion crimes are generic, making it difficult for prosecutors to effectively charge the offenders. The Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2006 (A.1898D/Dinowitz; co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Lifton) creates new crimes of human trafficking in persons for labor or sexual servitude. The bill would also provide needed assistance and protection to victims, helping them access federal benefits and services, in addition to providing appropriate forms of assistance in New York State. In addition, the bill would allow the court to provide restitution to victims for the costs of medical and psychological treatment, transportation, temporary housing, child care and the value of lost or damaged property. Additional provisions of the bills would:

  • establish a defense to prosecution for certain offenses for victims of human trafficking who were coerced into engaging in such conduct;

  • in a manner similar to current law with respect to prostitution offenses, provide that a victim of trafficking for sexual servitude shall not, for purposes of criminal prosecution, be deemed an accomplice of the person who enslaved her;

  • allow civil forfeiture laws to be used to recover monies and property from persons who perpetrate the crimes of trafficking for labor or sexual servitude; and

  • establish a comprehensive program for identifying and providing services to victims of human trafficking in this state.

This bill passed the Assembly but was not acted upon by the Senate.

Sexual Assault Crimes

Legislation eliminating the statute of limitations for felony rape cases and other sex crimes - A.12012/Paulin; co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Lifton – was passed by both the Senate and Assembly. The Governor has not, to date, signed the legislation. Over the past decade, New York has significantly strengthened the laws that punish sex offenders and other violent criminals. Among the new laws are measures that provide life sentences for certain twice-convicted child sex offenders, increase penalties for statutory rape, create a new “date rape” statute that makes proving rape significantly easier, and enhance the state’s sex offender registration act.

Women’s Health

The Assembly, again this year, passed legislation (A.9906/Paulin; co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Lifton) on emergency contraception, allowing women to obtain the medication from a pharmacist or registered nurse without a prescription. This important bill, which could reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions in New York State, was vetoed by the Governor last year. This year, the Senate did not act on this legislation. A bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Lifton, A.2069, that would provide post-diagnosis support programs to individuals battling breast cancer, to help increase patient survival rates through counseling, education and outreach programs, passed the Assembly this year.

photo Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (center) with Assembly Members Joan Christensen (left) and Donna A. Lupardo (right) addresses child day care providers at the Assembly Roundtable on child care regulatory issues. (Click here to read the story)

Pay Equity

The Assembly once again passed a legislative package aimed at ending wage discrimination in New York State, marking the 9th consecutive year the Assembly has sought to ensure pay equity for women. The Assembly’s four-bill pay equity package would enact the New York State Fair Pay Act, ensuring that pay differentiation is not based on a person’s sex or national origin (A.3637/John), implement a state policy of equal compensation for work of comparable worth for state employees (A.305/Grannis), make discriminatory salary practices unlawful (A.2825/ DiNapoli), and make it unlawful for public employers to compensate employees of opposite sexes differently for work that is of comparable worth (A.9466/Destito.) The bills were not passed by the Senate.

Roundtable on State Programs for Micro-Businesses:
Are They Working?

In June 2006, the Task Force on Women’s Issues co-sponsored a Roundtable on Micro-Businesses at Borough Hall in Brooklyn. The Roundtable was hosted by Assemblymembers Joan L. Millman, Chair of the Commission on Government Administration and Mark Weprin, Chair of the Committee on Small Business.

Micro-businesses, generally defined as business enterprises with five or fewer employees, can range from repair services, cleaning services, child care, computer technology and web-based businesses, to specialty food, jewelry, arts and crafts, gifts, clothing and textiles. Micro-businesses are of particular importance to women. According to the United State Small Business Administration, women-owned businesses have become the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship. Many micro-businesses can be home-based and part-time, thus offering the flexibility to balance work and family responsibilities. They can generate income and generate jobs in areas where existing jobs may be scarce, such as rural areas and areas affected by plant closings or corporate downsizing.

The Assembly Roundtable brought together experts from micro-business development organizations, micro-loan programs, community development funding institutions, libraries and business owners, to discuss strategies for improving the State’s outreach to micro-businesses. Among the points made by Roundtable participants were:

  • Current State programs are generally efficient and effective in developing small business, but don’t have the capacity to serve the demand for assistance. More state funding is needed.

  • There is no “one size fits all” model for micro-business assistance. The State needs to support experimentation with different models. As programs and products evolve, unnecessary limitations in the law can hamper innovation.

  • Tax breaks such as those given to businesses in Economic Development Zones are useful for established businesses, but not for start-ups.

  • There is a need for “bridge loans” as businesses outgrow micro-loans but are still too small for conventional bank loans.

  • Community-based adult education is a possible means for entrepreneurial training.

  • There are areas, or tracks, of micro-business such as government procurement or child care where special training in government processes, regulations and licensing requirements is needed.

  • There is a need for a central data bank of existing programs, best practices, and “how to get started” information. Potential clients and organizations need to have better information about which programs may serve their needs.

In addition to advocating for increased funding of existing micro-business assistance programs, the Task Force this fall plans to co-sponsor another Roundtable upstate focusing on development in rural areas and small cities. We will also be looking at developing legislation to increase flexibility in the current laws governing State micro-business assistance and micro-financing.

State economic development programs have, in the past, all too often focused on attracting and retaining large, established companies – in spite of the documented fact that most economic growth happens at the micro level, with the job-by-job, incremental development of sole proprietorships and start-up businesses. We are hopeful that in the coming legislative session and fiscal year, more focus, and increased resources, will be devoted to micro-businesses.

Assembly Task Force on
Women’s Issues

Hon. Barbara Lifton, Chair

Hon. Vivian Cook

Hon. Sam Hoyt

Hon. Rhoda S. Jacobs

Hon. Catherine T. Nolan

Agency Building 4, 13th Floor
Empire State Plaza
Albany, New York 12248

New York State Assembly
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