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2015 Policy Wrap Up: Child Care Legislation

July 22, 2015

Author: Susan C. Antos


In the 2015 legislative session the Assembly passed four bills that were identified in our report, Still Mending the Patchwork, as critical to the fair and equitable administration of child care subsidies in New York State. 

Night Shift Bill
A.775-A (Jaffee)/S.5184 (Savino)

This bill would amend Social Services Law S-410-w to require that local social services districts provide parents and caretakers, who would otherwise be eligible for a child care subsidy, with a subsidy to sleep for 8 hours during the day because they work a late shift and have a child who is under the age of six and is not in school for a full school day.  The bill would affect counties that do not provide subsidies for a full 8 hours of sleep, or do not provide a subsidy for this purpose at all.  (Thirty districts fund 8 hours of care, 12 provide 6 hours of care, and 3 provide less than 6 hours of care.)

Sponsored by Assemblywoman Jaffee, this bill passed the Assembly 104-40 on 5/5/15, and was delivered to the Senate, where it was referred to the Committee on Children & Families on 5/5/15.

Work Exemption Bill
A.1805 (Titus)/S.5176 (Avella)

This bill would amend Social Services Law 410-x(2), to offer a 12 month work exemption to public assistance recipients who are parents or caretaker relatives that personally provide child care in districts that are unable to serve all eligible working families under 200% of poverty.  It would give support to families who are otherwise qualified for a childcare subsidy, but were denied due to a lack of funding.  The bill passed the Assembly 94-49 on 5/5/15.   After being delivered to the Senate, the bill was referred to the Committee on Children & Families on 5/5/15.

Absences Bill
A.6568 (Lupardo)/S.5009 (Felder)

This bill would require local districts to pay child care providers for absences on behalf of children who are absent from child care for a minimum of 12 days in a 6 month period, providing financial stability and maintaining quality of care.  A maximum number of absences, which would be no less than 24 in a 6 month period, would be determined by OCFS.  Reimbursement for additional absences past the maximum, allowable in extreme circumstances, would also be determinable by OCFS.  This bill would amend Social Services Law Section 410-x, adding a new subdivision 9.  A.6568 (Lupardo)/S.5009 (Felder) passed the Assembly 106-34 on 5/13/15, and was delivered to the Senate, who referred the bill to the Committee on Children & Families.

20% Copayment Cap
A.6174a (Russell)

This bill would standardize child care copayments by requiring local social services districts to cap family copayments at 20% of a family’s income over the poverty level.   It would amend subdivision 6 of section 410-x of the Social Services Law, and aims to create equal access to child care assistance throughout the state, as copayments in New York State range from 10% to 35% of a family’s income over the poverty level. The bill passed the Assembly 96-44 on 5/12/15, and was referred in the Senate to the Committee on Children & Families on 5/13/15.

A second bill in the Assembly, A.4207, sponsored by Assemblymember Titus also would have capped copayments.  It would have amended subdivision 6 of section 410-x of the Social Services Law to state that no child care copayment will be assessed to families whose income is at or below the state income standard.  Additionally, the bill would cap copayments at 10% of a family’s household income, in order to ensure equitable access to child care across the state.  The bill was referred to the Assembly Committee on Children and Families on 1/29/15.

Other important child care bills that passed at least one house:

Reporting on the Availability of Child Care 
A.1083 (Paulin)/S.1422 (Carlucci)

This bill would direct the Office of Children & Family Services (OCFS) to examine, evaluate, and make recommendations concerning the availability of child day care for working parents.  OCFS would in particular review the impact of the lack of access to child care services on the ability of women in or near poverty to enter the workforce. Section 1 of the bill would add a new section to direct OCFS to conduct a study that evaluates the availability of child care services in New York State, and provides recommendations for increasing the number and capacity of child care providers.  Section 2 would permit OCFS to request information from any state agency relevant to the study.  Section 3 would direct the Commissioner of OCFS to submit a report on the findings to the Governor and Legislature, including recommendations and proposed legislation.  The bill passed the Senate on 6/16/2015 and was delivered to the Assembly, where it was referred to the Committee on Children & Families.

Child Care Task Force Bill
A.7135 (Gunther)/S.5091 (Ritchie)

This bill would create a child care regulatory review task force, comprised of the Commissioner of OCFS, the Commissioner of OTDA, the Commissioner of the Department of Health, and the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, to review the processes and regulations for child care providers.  The task force would specifically review processes and requirements placed on child care providers regulated by OCFS that are duplicative or unnecessary, creating administrative burdens for these providers.  The bill would add section 390-j to the Social Services Law.  The bill passed the Assembly unanimously on 5/13/15 and was sent to the Senate.  The bill passed the Senate 6/15/15 and was returned to the Assembly.

Waiting List Bill
A.7585 (Walker)/S.973 (Montgomery)

This bill would require each social services district to collect data and maintain a waiting list of eligible families who applied for child care assistance.  It would require the district to report to OCFS, the governor, and the legislature on the average length of time for families on the waiting list, the number of children on the waiting list broken down by age range, and the number of families denied and the incomes of these families.  This bill would amend section 410-z of the Social Services Law.  It passed the Assembly 137-7 on 6/18/15. After being sent to the Senate, the bill was referred to Rules on 6/18/15.

Simplified Child Care Assistance Application
A.4469 (Barrett)/S.5419 (Serino)

This bill would require local social services districts to utilize a simple application for child care assistance.  The simplified application would then be made available on local districts’ websites, as well as in print to those that request it.  A link to the application would be made available on the OFCS and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s websites.  The bill passed the Assembly 136-4 on 5/12/15 and was delivered to the Senate, who referred the bill to the Committee on Children and Families.  It passed the Senate on 6/15/15 and was returned to the Assembly.

Local Legislative Approval to Amend Consolidated Services Plan
A.1861b (Mayer)/S.3449a (Stewart-Cousins)

This bill would amend § 34-a of the Social Services Law to require that any application to amend a local district’s consolidated services plan be first approved by the County’s governing body after a public hearing and before it is sent to OCFS.    Proposed consolidated service plans which include provisions to reduce or limit child care availability or subsidies would be subject to this requirement.  This bill would prevent local social services districts from submitting plans which limit eligibility when their County Legislatures have authorized funding for these services.  The bill passed the Assembly 141-1 on 6/8/15, and was referred in the Senate to the Committee on Finance on 6/8/15. 

 





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