Leadership Alliance CEO, Stacey Duncan, stood alongside community partners from the Urban League and the United Way of Broome County to announce today an award of $750,000 in congressionally directed spending secured by Senator Chuck Schumer for the Broome County Childcare Expansion Project. The funds received will serve to bolster the Urban League’s ongoing childcare programs and expand their offerings through the addition of more childcare spots as well as extended hours to accommodate parents working second shift.
“Access to quality affordable childcare is inherently tied to our community’s workforce development efforts, and we thank Senator Chuck Schumer for advocating for our community’s growth. Employers have been reporting workforce shortages for years, however, it is impossible to fill those gaps when the infrastructure is not in place to support our workforce. When New York State is the sixth most expensive state for childcare, economically disadvantaged families are often at a loss for reliable, safe, and certified childcare options, and many times must turn down opportunities for training or employment that would otherwise improve their economic mobility,” said Leadership Alliance CEO, Stacey Duncan.
“Investing in Broome County’s children and families is investing in the future of the Southern Tier. I am proud to deliver this major $750,000 federal investment to expand access to affordable childcare for hundreds of families in the Greater Binghamton area,” said Senator Schumer. “Affordable childcare is essential for a region’s economy to grow., It strengthens the workforce, let’s people go back to school, and is vital to maintaining a high quality of life. Now thanks to the funding I secured, parents and children will have the support they need to build their life and future here in in the Southern Tier.”
In the past ten years alone, Broome and Tioga Counties have witnessed the shutdown of two thirds of their childcare programs. According to the 2017 OCFS report, Broome County only has the capacity to provide childcare for 4,608 children, with 71% of facilities in 2019 requiring a waitlist according to the Family Enrichment Network’s 2020-2021 Community Needs Assessment. Broome County is home to 31,912 children years 14 and younger; 11,946 are children under the age of six, and of those nearly 12,000 children, more than three thousand are living 100% beneath the poverty level and more than six thousand are living 200% beneath the poverty level. By opening up more childcare spots and providing non-traditional hours, Broome County families would be afforded the opportunity to gain a higher earning potential as they will be able to more readily pursue the educational & training opportunities or accept positions knowing their child is taken care of.
The announcement was made outside of one of the future sites of the Urban League’s new childcare centers at 54 Baxter Street in the City of Binghamton’s North Side. Currently, the Urban League serves about 200 children per year through their after-school and summer programs. Part of the funding received will be designated to cover the costs of capital improvements to the sites which will allow the Urban League to expand their Binghamton operations to as many as 250-300 spots year-round, and start-up a new childcare location in Johnson City with another at least 175 spots.
“With the potential of providing up to 475 children with certified and educational childcare programming, the Urban League is proud to be taking the steps in the right direction alongside such strong community partners to address one of our largest barriers to access and ascension within the workforce: childcare. Thank you to Senator Schumer for securing this funding for Broome County,” said President & CEO of the Urban League, Jennifer Lesko.
“A lack affordable childcare doesn't just hurt families, but also makes it hard for companies to hire and retain workers and hinders our area's ability to attract new businesses," said Mayor Jared M. Kraham. "Thanks to Senator Schumer, the Leadership Alliance, the United Way and the Broome County Urban League for their work to expand access to childcare in the City of Binghamton.”
"A lack of access to childcare has been one of the biggest hurdles for parents - especially mothers - looking to return to the workforce. With the help of this funding secured by Senator Schumer, at least 200 Broome County families will no longer have to choose between working and caring for their children. At a time when businesses are struggling to fill positions, these childcare slots will be a huge boost to local workforce development efforts. Thank you to Senator Schumer for his ongoing support of Broome County,” said Broome County Executive Jason Garnar.
"We are grateful to Senator Schumer for securing critical federal funds that will add at least 200 much-needed childcare slots here in Broome County,” said NYS Senator Lea Webb. “We are still feeling the effects of the pandemic here in our community, when historic numbers of women were pushed out of the workforce to care for their children. Lack of access to affordable, high-quality childcare is one of the barriers keeping many caregivers from reentering the workforce. This investment in our community will increase the availability of childcare in our region and make it possible for more folks to get back to work.”
Funding will also support the development of a new childcare workforce training model to ensure our community has enough certified childcare professionals to support the addition of these new spots as well as promote the continued growth of childcare operations in the region. Currently, the Urban League has access to training via their ATTAIN Lab Childcare Training program, and with funding, are now able to hire additional in person trainers and key materials needed to bring their training program to the next level.
“The United Way recently completed a white paper on successful models for childcare which outlined a number of barriers to childcare access including not only the limited number of spots, but also high rates of employee turnover and open positions within the industry itself. With 17% of the Broome County workforce projected to age out in the next few years, and retirement already being a leading cause for the shutdown of local childcare providers, we are grateful for funding from Senator Schumer to be able to pursue this sustainable model of childcare that features this innovative training component to provide this critical resource to both our local families and our workforce,” said United Way Executive Director Paula Perna.
The funding comes from two direct requests by Schumer: $600,000 through the Department of Health and Human Services- Administration for Children and Families to expand childcare services and $150,000 through the Department of Housing and Urban Development- Community Development Fund for the physical renovations. Other key features of the Broome County Childcare Expansion program include offering tuition assistance for our families most in need, as well as funding to provide emergency housing and housing assistance for those families not eligible for subsidies and are still working or in a training program. Access to truly quality affordable housing is considered another main barrier to employment and is acknowledged by experts as a key wrap-around service for childcare centers, ensuring our community's children can grow up in a safe environment when they are not at the childcare facility.
Thanks to the funding of secured by Senator Schumer the Broome County Urban League now has the financial capacity to expand their physical footprint and bring their services to our community members who need it the most now while alsopreparing Broome County for the influx of new families due to the growth of our region. Upon project completion, the Urban League will have the capacity to serve as many as 475 children year-round, allowing these parents to get back to school or back to work and increasing the quality of life for their families and the overall health and economic well-being of Broome County. Implementation plans are being developed by the Urban League, United Way, and the Leadership Alliance, and next steps will be announced soon.