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Empire Justice Center Letter in Support of Bill to Protect Confidentiality

August 6, 2009 

Governor David Paterson      
Executive Chamber
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

RE: A.2311/S.3423A

Dear Governor Paterson:

Child care providers supply an invaluable service to many families in New York.  Good child care provides for the well-being and safety of children while their parents work.  Pursuant to 390(8) of the Social Services Law, the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) maintains a list of all current and registered child care programs on their website.  The list includes the name of the provider, the location of the center, a pop-up window with a map to the child care center, and other contact information.  While the creation of this website makes it easier for parents to find child care that is conveniently located and appropriate to their child, the information included could endanger child care providers and the children in their care.

This important bill allows home based family child care providers to opt out of the requirement that their names and addresses be posted on the website of the Office of Children and Family Services. As the use of computers and the Internet has exploded over the last 20 years, the privacy, safety and security of personal information about victims of domestic violence has been at the forefront of advocacy concerns.  These concerns are often at direct odds with a desire for greater information accessibility and transparency.  However, should a child care provider or a child’s parent be a victim of domestic violence, placing information about her or his exact whereabouts online provides an effective and dangerous tool of abuse in the hands of a determined perpetrator.

Women-owned businesses are predominantly the providers and operators of home-based family and group family day care.  Such business enterprises make excellent self-employment choices for women because they allow many to become or remain financially independent, engage in rewarding work in a safe and comfortable home setting, and do what they enjoy—providing children with high quality, loving care from trained caregivers.

Historically, women have been the victims of stalking, domestic, and dating violence at virtually epidemic rates in the United States.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1998 and 2002, 84% of spouse abuse victims and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse were female.   Domestic violence doesn’t stay home when women go to work.  When women’s place of work is their home, it is crucial that domestic abuse in that setting also be seen as a serious matter akin to other workplace health and safety issues. 

Providing OCFS-licensed family day care home providers the ability to opt out of publishing their home address or map online provides for the necessary and safe balancing of public information against safety needs by offering protection to those who need it and more open access to those who do not. This bill will provide protection to child care providers who are survivors of domestic violence as well as to parents who are survivors of domestic violence who need to keep the location of their child care provider confidential.  The Empire Justice Center urges you to sign it. 

For more information, please contact:

Susan C. Antos

Empire Justice Center
119 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY  12210 

P:(518) 462-6831
F:(518) 935-2852

August 6, 2009