Too Many working families left out
The average cost of full time daycare in our county is $9,000 per year PER CHILD. Before NOAH launched our campaign in early 2018, a family’s income had to be less than 120% of the Federal Poverty Level (about $19,750 for a single parent with one child) to qualify for a subsidy. This is far below a reasonable cost of living in our area, which the MIT Living Wage Calculator estimates at about $53,000/year. This meant that too many lower-income working parents were left without access to subsidies and unable to afford appropriate care for their children.
There is also a shortage of licensed childcare providers in Niagara Couny, leaving families on long waiting lists.
Between the inadequate subsidies and the insufficient number of licensed providers, NOAH recognized that the lack of access to quality childcare leaves many low-income working parents underemployed, unable to support their families, and dependent on public assistance programs.
Quality childcare births quality communities
High quality childcare promotes strong mental and social skills needed for lifelong learning and development, setting the foundation for success throughout a child’s life. It is important not only to our children but to parents, knowing that their children are learning and growing in a safe and healthy environment.
Raising the cap: twice!
Throughout 2018, NOAH and our community partners built relationships with community stakeholders, including childcare providers, local churches, Niagara Community Action Program (NiaCAP), the WNY Women’s Foundation, Niagara County DSS, the Niagara Falls Housing Authority, Niagara Falls School District, and the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI). Together, our coalition advocated on behalf of our community and secured bipartisan support in the Niagara County Legislature to raise the income cap for subsidies from 120% FPL to 130% FPL, effective January 1, 2019.
The first incremental increase did not go far enough, and we are thrilled that continued organizing efforts and state-level support for this issue from Governor Cuomo’s office led to a second incremental increase, announced in November 2019 by Niagara Falls Mayor (then mayor-elect) Robert Restaino. Effective January 1, 2020, the income cap for childcare subsidies in Niagara County is now 150% of the Federal Poverty Level.
Where do we go from here?
NOAH will continue to evaluate the impact of the incremental subsidy increases, and we look forward to continuing to push forward on this critical issue in two areas:
First, the income cap for subsidies in Niagara County still lags significantly behind neighboring Erie County’s, where families making up to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level are eligible for these funds. We continue to advocate and work with our county and local officials to find the funding and ensure that Niagara County working families have access to the same resources their Erie County counterparts enjoy.
Second, as community organizers we look for solutions within our community by building up and supporting one another. One way to do this is to work together to tackle the problem of “childcare deserts.” Funding for childcare does families no good if there are too few licensed childcare providers in their community to fulfill the demand for care. Families seeking care experience long wait lists at licensed and accredited childcare centers, while their career and educational opportunities pass them by. At the same time, families in our community are struggling to support themselves financially. Within our faith communities, small churches and other community-based organizations struggle to raise sufficient revenue to keep their doors open. This is an opportunity for a win-win solution: if we can organize resources and build up our neighbors, we can help them get licensed as childcare providers. This will supply needed income to the providers, create jobs, and increase the availability of high quality care for our community’s children.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved, and a member of our organizing team will reach out to you!