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Child Care, Paid Family Leave Advance in Albany

PHOTO: New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced a package of legislation Wednesday that would enact paid family leave and increase access to child care for low-income families. Courtesy Rep. Silver's office.
PHOTO: New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced a package of legislation Wednesday that would enact paid family leave and increase access to child care for low-income families. Courtesy Rep. Silver's office.
March 6, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. – Help may be on its way for New Yorkers who can't find or afford quality child care for infants and toddlers.

A package of 18 bills has been introduced by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who promised its passage in the Democrat-dominated Assembly. .

At its heart is paid family leave for parents of newborn children or those caring for ill family members. And Silver says it wouldn't raise taxes.

"We believe it's handled by a 45 cent weekly payment from employees similar to the disability premiums that are now paid by employees," he explains.

Some business groups say the payment should be voluntary, not government-mandated.

The legislation would also increase access to child care for low-income families and raise the quality of child care programs.

Jan Barbieri of the Child Care Council of Nassau, cautions that "the devil is in the details," and a closer look at the measures is necessary.

"I think it's wonderful that all of this is out there about the needs for young children and I want to know what's inside of all of these bills,” she says. “What are the details?"

Rep. Michele Titus is a member of the Child Care Workgroup formed last May. Its recommendations resulted in the new bills.

Titus says the bills address the fact that when it comes to child care, sometimes jobs are at stake.

"Allowing working families to keep their jobs, not lose that job and become a recipient of the safety net, but keep them in the workforce and keep families working," she stresses.

Rep. Catherine Nolan points out a paid family leave measure was introduced in 2005, but never passed.

"We've really polished it up and decided this is the moment to push it forward,” she says. “We have tremendous support in the Assembly."

In January, Rhode Island became the third state to offer workers paid family leave, along with New Jersey and California.


Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY