Amenities in baby care deserts like Onondaga County might obtain monetary help

Struggling child care facilities will be eligible to apply for a portion of the $30 million New York State has dedicated to address child care deserts.

Almost all of Onondaga County is considered a child care desert by the state. That means there are more children who need care than what’s available. New York state is trying to alleviate some of the pressure by using millions of dollars of American Rescue Plan Act funding to help existing facilities expand their capacity. Executive director of Childcare Solutions Lori Schakow said home-based providers can apply for funds to expand hours or enroll new infants and children with special needs, and centers can add more seats.

“Daycare centers can apply for $7,000 per new slot for up to 25 slots. School-age programs can apply for $2,500 per new slot for up to 25 slots,” Schakow said.

These grants are specifically for providers in areas designated as a child care desert, but Schakow said that covers about 60% of New York.

“Most of the state, believe it or not, is a child care desert, but then each of the economic development regions were ranked in terms of how high of a desert they were and central New York was third,” Shackow said.

The Southern Tier ranked second and the North Country ranked first.

These most recent grants are only a small part of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $7 billion investment in child care over the next four years. This includes $100 million specifically to address child care deserts. Schakow has worked in the field for decades and said she is amazed at the funds going toward the industry.

“This is unprecedented. I think the last time we had this much momentum around was in the 70s when we almost passed the universal child care,” Schakow said.

Existing facilities can apply for can apply until Aug. 24 to receive a grant and can expect to hear back in September.

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