JAMESTOWN – Local officials and advocates took part in a Child Care Provider Appreciation Day event on Friday morning. The occasion was commemorated with a Thank You car parade that began with a 9 a.m. kick-off in Jamestown and proceeded through the entire county, driving by the homes of every child care provider. It culminated with a press conference in Northern Chautauqua County attended by local and state representatives as well as child care providers, advocates and first responders.
According to State Sen. George Borrello, this year’s event took on heightened importance as the state and nation confront the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Child care providers are a critical component of the frontline workforce, providing emergency care to the children of essential workers,” said a statement from Borrello’s office.
Senator Borrello, Assemblyman Andy Goodell and Congressman Tom Reed have each called on the state to disburse a remaining $133.4 million in emergency relief to the childcare system that was allocated under the federal CARES Act.
As of Friday, the state has allotted $30 million of the original $163.4 million to provide free childcare for income-eligible essential workers. Another $88 million has been committed to after-school programs, but the guidance needed to activate the programs has not been issued. More than $45 million remains unspent and uncommitted.
Senator Borrello and all the participants requested that New York State follow the lead of other states around the nation and use remaining funding to provide immediate assistance to families and providers.
“While Child Care Provider Appreciation Day has been celebrated for more than two decades, this year’s event has taken on deeper meaning in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the extraordinary way our registered child care providers have stepped up to provide crisis-related child care to frontline and essential workers,” said Borrello. “Many of these small businesses are struggling financially from enrollment losses related to the crisis, but are operating to help our essential workers and because they care about the children and our community. Today is about thanking them for their extraordinary contributions and requesting that the state use the remaining CARES Act funding to help sustain these providers so they can continue to provide the quality care that parents and children need and deserve.”