New York has worked at the state and county level to study the child care industry and understand the impact of this sector on local and regional economies. New York State, Long Island, Tompkins, Monroe, Ontario and Chemung Counties all have completed economic impact studies that quantify the ECE industry. The earliest of these studies was completed by Tompkins County in the spring of 2002.
Cornell University in New York State has served as a national leader in research and practice in the field of linking child care and economic development. Led by Dr. Mildred Warner of the Planning Department and Louise Stoney of the Alliance for Early Childhood Finance, the school has undertaken significant work to develop methodological guides to assess the child care sector, understand the connections to the regional economy, and use the data to consider policy options and opportunities as related to the connection between ECE and economic development. The Linking Child Care and Economic Development team has conducted significant research and participated in a number of state and local efforts, events and initiatives across the county. They are engaged in national, state and local effort especially in New York. The University houses the Linking Economic Development and Child Care Project which has a 50 state ECE data base, links to state and county economic impact reports, extensive resources, publications and presentations on research from the field.
Using Economic Messages
New York is a large and diverse state from the urban environment of New York City to the much more rural communities in the upstate. In the same way, economic development and child care is approached differently across the state and varied methods of communication are needed to link these fields together. At the state level, the economic impact message is opening the ECE conversation with new partners and increasing understanding about the connection between economic development and child care. However statewide economic development groups have not yet fully engaged in this work and state level agencies are still working to digest the implications of this framework. At the local level however, community collaboratives with diverse partners have been innovative and forward thinking in making new connections that benefit early education. Local officials, businesses, economic development professionals, universities and other have initiated projects connecting child care and economic development.
Community coalitions have provided the foundation for advancing the economic impact message and encouraging local investment. Community efforts in Chemung, Monroe, Tompkins, and Erie Counties have resulted in need and asset assessments, funding pools, school readiness initiatives, new child care facilities, and strategic plans for addressing child care shortages.
The Cities of Buffalo and Rochester are using a data driven approach to successfully increase investments in ECE. In addition to Rochester’s economic impact report, a community ECE assessment project, the Rochester Early Childhood Assessment Partnership (RECAP), has for the past 10 years gathered data about the city’s ECE sector. The assessment reports on quality improvements in the ECE system, increased access to early education opportunities, and outcomes of children participating in these programs. With this very specific information on their returns on investment, businesses and other donors see the value of their investments and are inclined to continue their contributions. In Buffalo, a collaboration between city leaders, child care professionals and the academic community led to a study of the supply and demand for child care in the city. This data is being used as a springboard for implementing community driven efforts to improve and increase access to high quality child care in Buffalo.
Boosting the Economic Power of Early Care and Education: Key Highlights
Established in 1990, the Early Childhood Development Initiative is a community collaborative working to engage the community in expanding and improving early childhood services for all children in Rochester and Monroe County. The initiative is overseen by a committee of local leaders that work with member organizations to plan community-wide projects to support investment in ECE. Accomplishments include the implementation of a citywide universal pre-kindergarten program, a technical assistance program for child care centers working to achieve national accreditation, and the creation of the Rochester Early Childhood Assessment Partnership (RECAP). RECAP’s most recent assessment found that the city’s ECE programs are among the top in the nation in terms of quality for 3 and 4-year olds.
Chemung County Child Care Council was formed to be a voice for affordable, accessible and available quality child care programs. One initiative of the council is the Fortier-Wohl Child Care Fund. This project creates an outlet for local businesses and community members to invest in ECE. The program is administered by the Community Foundation of the Elmira-Corning Area and provides new and existing child care facilities with additional resources for quality improvements.
In May 2006, the New York State Child Care Coordinating Council in partnership with the Cornell Office of Economic Development, Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce and Rochester’s Child (on behalf of the Early Childhood Development Initiative) hosted a state conference called Cultivating Connection Between Economic Development and Child Care. The conference had a panel of business leaders who spoke as did Dr. Mildred Warner who heads the Linking Child Care and Economic Development team at Cornell University. Workshops on topics that highlight innovative connections between ECE and economic development allowed for more in-depth conversations around new areas of engagement. Several issues briefs were prepared that highlight connections between ECE and local planning, economic and workforce development and transportation planning.
In the spring of 2006, Cornell University conducted a survey of state economic development professionals in New York to learn more about the connection between ECE and economic development. The study found 8 out of 10 economic development professionals felt child care should be part of local economic development policy. The results of the survey were shared in detail at the statewide conference on cultivating connections between economic development and child care.
In 2006, Buffalo began a locally grown project to address the City’s ECE needs that were brought to light in connection with a newly planned medical campus. Community leaders came together as the Buffalo Quality Child Care Team to develop a research project to provide data for future action. This volunteer effort resulted in a collaboration that included Cornell University School of Industry and Labor Relations, the Erie County Child Care Resource Network, University of Buffalo Law School Community Economic Development Clinic, Success by 6 of the United Way, the Buffalo Branch Federal Reserve Bank of New York, M&T Bank, parents and other community advocates. A survey of Buffalo area businesses gathered information on projected business growth and workforce needs as one measure of assessing short and long term child care needs. The outcomes were outlined in the report Buffalo Child Care Means Business released in the fall of 2006. Implementation of the study’s recommendations is underway. One project includes an employer toolkit to better enable businesses to support their working parents.
The Tompkins County Early Education Partnership is a community effort that includes the Chamber of Commerce, Day Care and Child Development Council, Departments of Social Services, local universities, businesses, banks, and philanthropic organizations. The partnership created a community fund to assist families in securing quality ECE for their children. This community funding pool aims to improve the quality of the community’s ECE infrastructure, the local economy, and the access to quality care for children. Using the economic impact message has been an effective tool in framing this initiative and garnering local support and investment.
In 2004 Child Care Council of Nassau and Child Care Council of Suffolk released their economic impact study at a breakfast hosted by a local business Computer Associates. One effort following the release of this report is a project funded through the Venture Grant initiative of the Linking Economic Development and Child Care Technical Assistance Project. The project focuses on working with child care businesses to develop collaborative strategies to improve management and business practices. They hope to explore different business structures that allow for economies of scale and create more viable child care businesses.
State and Legislative Actions
In 2000, the New York Legislature established the Empire Zone tax credit program. These financial benefits are available to businesses locating or investing in one of the designated areas throughout New York State as incentives for business growth and development. The community development project component of the program specifically includes child care as an eligible investment. Some communities and organization such as Child Care Council of the Finger Lakes used these credits to leverage investment in their ECE system from private business and foundations.
In 2006 New York State Legislators passed a tax bill which included the Empire State Tax Credit, a refundable credit that provides up to $330 for each child between the ages of 4 and 17 for eligible families. In addition, New York City offers a refundable child care tax credit equal to credit can be as much as 75% of the New York State credit for eligible parents. The New York State child tax credit is also refundable and is up to up to 110% of the federal tax credit.
In June 2007, by executive order, the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet was established help improve health, education, safety and other children’ services to ensure child wellbeing. One of the cabinet’s areas of focus is the development and implementation of New York State Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program.
In 2008, the New York Zero-to-Three Network established a Policy Leadership Circle. The purpose of this group is to create an organized, cross disciplinary voice for infants, toddlers and their families that will raise public awareness for the first three years of life and develop an agenda for improving public policy and expanding state investment. The cross disciplinary framework includes early learning, strong families and healthy children.
New York State Child Care Coordinating Council discusses the economic impact of child care and has links to the presentations and materials produced at part of the stat conference Cultivating Connections Between Economic Development and Child Care.
New York Zero-to-Three Network promotes the optimal development of young children, their families and communities in New York. It provides support and information to those who work with New York's youngest children and their families by creating opportunities for interdisciplinary learning, collaboration, public awareness and advocacy.
The earlychildhood.org website was developed by the NYS Council on Children and Families Head Start Collaboration Project and has information and resource for parents, provider and early learning professional including information on innovative community early care and education initiatives.