Making the Case for Child Care

December 11, 2019

Katie Falzetta is a 29-year-old mother of two who graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh. Her husband is a project coordinator at a local manufacturing plant and earns $17 an hour. Like many moms in our region, Katie works two part-time jobs but has struggled to find affordable child care that would allow her to advance her professional career. She has had to turn down additional hours knowing that the cost of child care would negate whatever she’d be able to bring home. 

Earlier this year, when Katie learned about a program being offered by the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, she seized the opportunity to participate. A one-time grant from the state enabled the council to pilot test the program. This funding gave Katie the means to enroll her 16-month-old daughter in full-time daycare – and increase her work hours from 15 to nearly 35.

“It’s everything,” she said. “I decided to work more because I had the grant and now I have the opportunity to work full-time hours doing something I love. It pretty much advanced my career in all kinds of ways.” Nine other families in Clinton and Franklin counties also received assistance for child care through this pilot program.

The challenges in Katie’s story are all too common. Even though child care plays a critical role in a child’s early development and a parent’s ability to work, the industry is riddled with barriers on both sides of the equation. Pay for child care providers tends to be low, affordability for parents tends to be high, and there simply are not enough licensed slots per child – a factor compounded by an aging workforce that is not being replaced in this sector. In fact, our region qualifies as a child care desert. So, what can we do? How can philanthropy make a difference?

For one, our Birth to Three Alliance, now in its fifth year, positions us to expand options for child care and early childhood education. For example, the Alliance is working to expand QUALITYstarsNY (a ranking program that provides resources and support), advocate for policy changes that would extend tax credits to parents of children age four and under in child care, and promote opportunities for workforce development in this vital sector. We also offer free trainings for early care teachers, and host an annual conference bringing together child care providers, kindergarten teachers, and parents to identify the best ways to prepare our youngest learners for school.

In addition to coordinating the Alliance, Adirondack Foundation makes grants to support early childhood initiatives. This year, our Small Grants for Small Children Fund supported 33 child care providers, helping with reading corners, educational materials, outdoor learning, and more. And, since 2015, 23 funds here at the Foundation have collectively awarded more than a quarter of a million dollars to programs benefiting children up to age five.

There is much more to do and we invite you to contact Lindsay Yost, Program Director, to learn how you can help: lindsay@adkfoundation.org or 518.523.9904.

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