Crowdsourcing Solutions for Child Care and Learning

Recent cuts in federal child care subsidies have left families of modest income in a double bind. On one hand, fewer families meet the guidelines for assistance, forcing some to place children into unregulated care.

On the other hand, the budget squeeze has put some centers out of business, making it harder than ever for families to find high-quality care and education.

In August 2014, a group of educators, business leaders, government officials and other community members came together at the studios of WSKG for the 2014 Early Care and Learning Summit. “We sat down and started thinking about what could be done,” says Phillip Ginter, director of community impact and engagement at United Way of Broome County, which organized the summit.

Several working groups formed that day have continued their efforts. One of them has worked with the Broome County government to implement helpful changes in child care policy, Ginter says. For example, low income families receiving subsidies now pay a little less out of pocket for child care than they did in the past.

The Community Foundation’s own discussions with people who care for and educate young children in our region have uncovered two major needs: 1. Staff at child care centers want to restore subsidies to families that have lost them. 2. With budgets stretched to the limit, centers can’t make even the most basic purchases or facility upgrades.

In 2014, the Foundation set aside up to $50,000 for grants to meet those needs. Following a competitive request for proposals (RFP), we awarded grants to:

  • Delhi Campus Child Care Center, Delhi
    $10,000 for tuition assistance for families
  • Jewish Community Center, Binghamton
    $15,000 for tuition assistance for families
  • SUCO Children’s Center, Oneonta
    $15,000 for tuition assistance for families
  • Wilson Children’s Center, Deposit
    $7,283 to replace a carpet

Separately, the Foundation granted $12,100 to WSKG for a 2015 Early Childhood Awareness Campaign. Plans called for a series of investigative reports and panel discussions on WSKG Radio in the spring of 2015, culminating in a second summit.

Early childhood education—or the lack thereof—makes a significant impact on a region’s economy and quality of life, says Brian Sickora, president and chief executive officer of WSKG. Fortunately, the challenge in our region has provoked a serious response. “There are a lot of people at the table who believe that this is a big, complicated problem that the whole community has to work on together.”


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