Decoupling child care subsidies from parents’ working hours

Memorandum in support submitted by: Jenn O’Connor, Director of Partnerships and Early Childhood Policy, [email protected]

The Education Trust–NY supports and respectfully urges passage of S.5327 (Brisport)/A.4986-A (Hevesi), which provides a crucial technical update to legislation signed into law by Governor Hochul in December 2022, (S.6655-A (Brisport)/A.7661 (Hevesi)).

The Education Trust—NY is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to educational equity. We work to attain educational justice through research, policy, and advocacy that results in all children – especially those who are from low-income backgrounds or students of color – achieving at high levels from early childhood through college completion. We support decoupling a parent’s work hours from the hours that child care is available to them, thus expanding access to care and increasing equity.

For many parents who work part time, have rotating work schedules, are homeless, or have other “non-traditional” arrangements, access to care is limited. This legislation removed restrictive language referencing a “substantial part of the day” and clarified that local social services districts are not required to limit care based on parents’ work, training, or educational schedule.

The original bill was passed in the Legislature with overwhelming support, with the understanding and intention that the bill would provide broad relief to families eligible for child care assistance. Unfortunately, due to a drafting error, the bill impacts only child care assistance supported solely by local funds. New York’s child care assistance program is almost entirely funded by a combination of federal, state, and a small contribution of local funds, with the latter generally not “segregated” from the other funds. Accordingly, the burden of developing new systems to ensure only local funds are used for families eligible for “decoupled” assistance would be formidable, if not impossible, for many localities, rendering the bill largely, if not entirely, ineffective.

This new legislation corrects the drafting error by adding clarifying language about the bill’s purpose and applicability, and will deliver a significant win for both New York families and child care providers.