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NY Report Asks: Who’s Minding the Kids?

PHOTO: A new report says Eastern Long Island families, like many all around New York, need more help in finding and affording quality preschool programs for their children. Photo credit: kconners/morguefile.
PHOTO: A new report says Eastern Long Island families, like many all around New York, need more help in finding and affording quality preschool programs for their children. Photo credit: kconners/morguefile.
June 25, 2014

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. - Families on Eastern Long Island need more help in finding and affording quality preschool programs for their children, according to a new report.,

The study, released by the Suffolk County Welfare to Work Commission, was authored by its chairman, Dr. Richard Koubek, who summarized its findings.

"One, the research is indisputable that quality child care and early learning have long-term benefits for children - particularly poor children, but all children," he said. "And two, the national rhetoric about the need to implement what we know works has not been followed with money."

The report recommended creating a commission to help coordinate services, and establishing a Children's Trust Fund to alleviate unmet needs. It urged the state to change the formula that it says underfunds Suffolk County's working poor, and called on the county to increase the allocation of funds to stimulus-era amounts.

Janet Walerstein, executive director of the Child Care Council of Suffolk, who helped assemble the report, said there's nothing surprising in it and nothing she hasn't known during 30 years in the child-care industry.

"It's sad to think that we're still fighting the same issues, but we have made some great strides in bringing awareness," she said. "There has to be more support for the industry as a whole."

Walerstein is preparing an update of a report from 10 years ago that said - back then - child care was a $600 million Long Island industry.

Koubek called it a mistake to think the issue is one of finding "minders" for kids.

"We are not talking about babysitting," he said. "We are talking about education - that's the first thing. Quality early learning and quality child care is not babysitting, it's education. And then, two, if it's serious education, then it should be funded like the public school system."

He added that the report was initiated shortly after President Obama made early education and care a keynote in his 2013 State of the Union address.

"This is the hottest thing in the policy field now, that even the Democrats and Republicans in the House agree," he said. "We've got to do something. Whether it's going to be done, I don't know."

The report is titled "Who's Minding the Kids? Meeting Challenges and Creating Opportunities for Quality Child Care and Early Learning in Suffolk County."

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY