New York State Exposed: Daycare drain

Posted at: 05/09/2014 1:05 PM
Updated at: 05/12/2014 5:37 PM
By: Amanda Ciavarri

For many parents, daycare is a must so they can go to work. It can come with a high price tag. In New York, it costs more to send your child to daycare than to send them to college. 

New York ranks second nationwide when it comes to the highest child care costs. Massachusetts has the highest child care costs. Daycare centers are small businesses. Small businesses pay high taxes and fees in New York. If you add in insurance for every child at daycare, that forces daycare centers to charge hundreds of dollars to families each week.

Daycare is a must for Kody Thompson and his four-year-old son, Braylen.  As a single father, Thompson, who lives in Greece, works multiple jobs to be able to afford daycare.

Kody Thompson said, “We actually got a cheap one at $215 a week because we were looking around and others were $250, $275 a week. That's more than a car payment. That is my car payment each month and it is weekly.”

News10NBC spoke with so many parents who are in the same boat as Thompson.  

In New York, it costs an average of $14,939 a year for daycare. That’s about $1,200 a month. To send a student to public college, it costs about $6,560 for tuition. That means daycare costs about $8,000 more than college.

Renee Scholz, Child Care Council Referral Coordinator, said, “Because the cost of care for children can be so exorbitant, their whole paycheck goes towards child care. It has been a real crisis for families when there has been no funding.”

Whether you have one child or several children, or don’t have any kids at all, Renee Scholz from the Child Care Council says not enough support for parents could end up costing everyone more.

Scholz said, “It can cause a family to make very difficult decisions. Some people can’t afford to go to work so they end up having to apply for social services. They can’t maintain employment because they can’t secure affordable child care.”

Those scenarios are playing out in homes across our area. Parents are making drastic decisions to quit their jobs and stay home or have a majority of their paycheck go to childcare.

Assemblyman Mark Johns, (R), 135th Assembly District said, “It is something people struggle with, especially women. They want to go out into the workforce and we should be supporting that.”

There is help available locally and on the state level. There are funds paid by taxpayers, but without that money, families could end up on welfare. Just recently, New York State announced it is providing nearly $800 million for child care subsidies because of the need. Wayne, Ontario, Genesee and Livingston Counties are getting $1 million each. Monroe County is getting $36 million. 

Scholz said, “It is estimated that an additional 200 families will be served, so it is definitely a bonus. It is nice.”

There is a catch. In order to qualify for that, a family of four has to make less than $30,000. 

Johns said, “We should probably be doing more things that would be work-ware, instead of welfare. Most people don't like the idea of welfare, but if someone is willing to go out, work 40 hours a week and struggle, we should be subsidizing that and not punishing that.”

At the end of the day, Thompson says the benefits of daycare are worth it.

Thompson said, “It is really, really important and no matter what I am like, I have to come up with that money.”

The struggles don't end with paying the daycare bill. When families try to find less expensive options, there can be serious safety risks for their children.