Empire Justice Memo: Require OCFS to Assess New York State’s Child Care System

Susan Antos February 01, 2016

This bill would require that the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), in consultation with the Department of Labor, examine, evaluate and make recommendations regarding the availability of day care for children in New York State, with a focus on women in poverty seeking to enter the labor force, and report to the Governor and the Legislature regarding their findings.  The bill would require that OCFS identify day care shortages by geographic region and project future demand, to make a 5 year projection on the need for child care, assessing cost on a regional basis, assessing the need for non-traditional child care and the transportation needs of working parents, particularly low income working parents.  The bill also requires that the report identify policies that would encourage and facilitate the expansion of quality child care in low income neighborhoods.

Importantly, the bill also requires that the report identify and quantify factors that contribute to quality child care.

This bill is an important first step to the development of a statewide assessment of how New York’s child care policies support low income workers.  We believe that to complement this assessment, OCFS must compile an ongoing inventory of subsidy usage as well.  Incredibly, although OCFS oversees a child care program with an annual budget of almost one billion dollars, it does not know:

  • which social services districts have insufficient funding to serve all eligible working families;
  • of those districts with insufficient  funding, whether they are serving no new cases, or restricting eligibility to families below a particular income level;
  • which social services districts keep waiting lists, and the number of families on those waiting lists;
  • the income levels of families receiving subsidies;
  • the number of children in each district that receive enhanced rates because they have special needs, or require care during non-traditional hours, or because they are attending an accredited child care program.

New York State is currently in the development stage of creating an Integrated Eligibility System for its entire public assistance program, and now is the time to build a system that can capture this data.  See http://www.its.ny.gov/sites/default/files/documents/rfi_record_draft_for_its_website_12.28.2015.pdf

Empire Justice Center strongly supports the passage of this bill, and urges that it be amended to include the additional data sets described above to the list of information collected for this bill.

For more information, please contact:

Susan C. Antos
Empire Justice Center
119 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY  12210

(518) 462-6831
(518) 935-2852