Statement from Assemblyman Hevesi after visit to the White House “States Convening on Child Care”

Washington, D.C– On Wednesday July 19, 2023, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D – Queens), Chair of the New York State Assembly Committee on Children & Families, attended the White House’s States Convening on Child Care. This event hosted New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham, Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, 91 state legislators from 41 states across the country, and featured closing remarks from First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden.

“This convening was an opportunity to learn from the experiences of legislators in other parts of the country, as they as fight for our shared goals of lower copays for families, ensuring that providers are paid based on enrollment and not attendance, presumptive eligibility, increasing the number of available childcare slots, providing care during non-traditional hours, and most importantly paying our childcare workforce.

Collaboration with our federal partners on these substantive issues is incredibly important and I am grateful to President Biden and his administration for the progress they have made including providing vital funds during and after the pandemic and using the power of executive orders to lower childcare costs and support childcare providers.

In New York State, we used these federal funds and added the largest single investment of state funds for childcare in the history of New York State to increase the number of available childcare slots and eligibility levels. This year we secured a $500 million investment for wage supplements for full time childcare and afterschool educators, as well as expanding the Empire State Child Tax Credit to include children under 4 which will impact 580,000 families with 791,000 New York Children.

However, for our childcare system to be successful, these significant investments in childcare eligibility need to be followed by investment in the workforce. Staffing shortages and retention issues due to low wages are contributing to a growing number of childcare providers operating at reduced capacity or even shutting down entirely.

A recent survey of providers in New York State concluded that two thirds of the childcare programs surveyed were experiencing staff shortages and consequently reduced capacity, closed classrooms or closed programs. The reality is that our childcare programs cannot compete with school districts, warehouses, retail, and food service, all of which offer higher salaries. It is time to adequately address the dire needs of the childcare workforce. These professionals have been underpaid and undervalued for far too long.

The States Convening on Child Care afforded me the opportunity to advocate for increased federal funding to invest in the New York States Childcare Workforce. However, whether or not the federal government provides this assistance, New York State must act.

One final takeaway from this convening was that many of my colleagues in other state legislatures have additional partisan and ideological obstacles to contend with on their path to expanding to universal childcare and increased investment in their respective states. Currently, in New York, we do not have those obstacles.

We have a short window of opportunity where all the major players from Governor Hochul to Speaker Heastie and the Assembly Majority Conference, as well as Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and the Senate Democratic Conference have proven track records of investing in children and families, specifically in childcare.

These windows of opportunity are fleeting in government, and we must take full advantage of the fact that our political and ideological goals are currently aligned by finally paying our childcare workforce what they deserve.

I am incredibly honored and grateful to have been allowed to attend the White House Convening on Childcare. Thank you to Speaker Heastie and the NYSA majority for allowing me to participate and thank you to President Joe Biden for prioritizing this issue, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden for speaking with us, and huge thanks to the staff at the White House who continue to work hard every day to make childcare more affordable and accessible for hard working families throughout the United States,” said Assemblyman Hevesi.