Capitol Notes

Overdue state child care report coming ‘very very soon’

A member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s cabinet dropped a hint this week about the timetable for releasing comprehensive state recommendations on child care availability that were due at the end of 2020.

“We are hoping to have that report released very very soon,” state Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila Poole told state lawmakers upon questioning during Tuesday’s joint legislative hearing on the human services portion of the governor’s budget proposal.

Asked to elaborate on her timeline, she said, “Just as soon as possible … I know everyone is very anxious to have the report released.”

The Cuomo administration and OCFS had previously been mum about the status of the report, but Poole, who is co-chair of the Child Care Availability Task Force, confirmed that it has been drafted.

During the hearing, Assembly Children and Families Committee Chair Andrew Hevesi remarked that word-of-mouth feedback about the report indicated it was “stellar” and called for “wholesale change of the child care industry.”

Budget documents indicate that elements of the plan have already been incorporated into the governor’s spending proposal, which Poole confirmed during the hearing, noting that language addressing administrative burdens, child care deserts and co-pays are reminiscent of proposals from the task force.

Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, a North Country Republican, who raised the issue of the report during the hearing, said Wednesday he is not satisfied with the vague timeline from the commissioner. While the governor was able to pick and choose ideas from the plan for his budget proposal, Walczyk said the legislature was being denied the same opportunity to advance child care availability solutions.

“There could be some great things in there,” he said.

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