Every new parent finds out quickly that childcare is expensive. The cost of childcare in the Rochester region is around $10,000 a year for an infant. That’s prohibitive for families who don’t earn a lot of money.
Childcare plays a vital role in helping parents maintain stable employment. Quality childcare also benefits children by providing a stable, nurturing environment.
Monroe County spends $44 million on childcare subsidies for about 7,500 children. The county contributes about $5.5 million, with state and federal funds making up the rest.
Those funds don’t cover every family that needs assistance. In fact, Monroe County enrolls half as many kids in childcare than it did in 2001, according to the Children’s Agenda.
Unfortunately, childcare has been a political football for many years. At budget time, children’s groups routinely beg for more funding. They’re either told there is no more funding, or there’s only enough funding for a handful of additional slots. It’s clear Monroe County doesn’t have the will or the means to solve this problem alone.
I’m calling on the City of Rochester to step up and help. If we’re serious about reducing the city’s enormously high poverty and unemployment rates, we can be part of the solution.
For less than 2 percent of the city budget, we can provide childcare slots for an additional 1,000 kids. This would double the amount of local spending on childcare. The state may provide matching funds, increasing the number of families we can assist. The city is not a human service provider, but we can facilitate more childcare assistance by contracting with Monroe County for supplemental service.
We need to reprioritize how we spend our resources to have maximum impact.
This is the kind of collaboration and out-of-the-box thinking I will bring to City Hall. We must work together to help our children and families and make Rochester a city of opportunity.