A Concern Shared By Many Chamber of Commerce Members: Child Care
What Long Island African American Chamber President, Phil Andrews has been hearing from members
As President of the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, I have spent the past few months concerned first and foremost for the health and safety of our members and their employees, especially as the coronavirus has tragically cost our community so many lives. A more unexpected topic that has concerned Chamber members is the availability of child care.
Affordable, high-quality child care is vital to the New York workforce by supporting working parents now and preparing children for future success. Reliable child care allows parents to be more productive and focus on work while on the job and achieve higher levels of professional growth. Nurturing early learning environments also help prepare infants and toddlers for kindergarten and build cognitive and social-emotional skills that they will eventually rely on in the workplace.
When New York City was an epicenter for coronavirus transmission, our essential workers relied on child care while all of us relied on them. We now understand better than ever that child care providers are the workforce behind the essential workforce that supports all of our “business as usual” activities. In addition, the majority of New York State’s 15,512 licensed or registered child care businesses are owned and/or run by Black and Brown women– women who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Estimates show that about 50 percent of licensed child care slots across the state are at risk of disappearing permanently, which is especially concerning to me as an advocate for Black business owners.
These closures also raise alarm bells for our state’s economic stability. A report from ReadyNation estimates that before coronavirus-induced closures, the lack of reliable child care for children ages birth to three could cost the Empire State $4.56 billion annually. As health and safety guidelines limit child care centers’ capacity and revenue, that number is likely to grow even greater.
The child care sector, which is a substantial part of the small business economy and African American businesses, will continue to falter without timely state and federal relief. New York State still has not distributed all of the child care funding that it received from the federal CARES Act, which should be used to support providers who are starting to reopen now and those who bravely remained open throughout the worst of the pandemic. Our state’s leaders have faced many difficult choices over the past few months and will face more to come, but supporting such critical infrastructure as quality child care should be an easy decision.