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Hochul waives taxes on diapers and releases $70 million for child care 'deserts'

7-25 Hchul govs office.jpg
Kevin P. Coughlin
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Gov. Kathy Hochul's office
Gov. Kathy Hochul visited with children at the YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood's day care center before awarding $70 million in grants to create new child care centers on July 25, 2022.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday that the state will spend $70 million for improving child care services as part of a plan that ends the state sales tax on baby diapers.

The funds are part of $7 billion set aside in the state budget over the next four years to fix what many believe is a broken child care system.

Hochul said the money will create 243 new child care centers. The 12,000 new slots will include 592 guaranteed places for infants and toddlers. Five hundred slots will be set aside to provide care at non-traditional hours to help essential workers like health care professionals, retail workers, cleaners, and others who don’t have a 9-to-5 schedule.

“The child care workers are the essential workers for the essential workers,” Hochul said. “So let’s just acknowledge the role that they play.”

The new centers will be located in what are known as “child care deserts,” which Hochul said comprises 60% of New York state.

The governor and Legislature also have increased the family income threshold for eligibility for assistance to pay for child care from $52,000 to $83,000 per year.

Hochul, a new grandmother, also signed a bill into law that ends the state and local sales tax on diapers, which she said will help counteract rising prices due to inflation. Bill sponsor Sen. Jamaal Bailey said that as a parent of two, he knows that whenever you can save money, it helps.

“I’ve changed a diaper or a thousand in my lifetime,” Bailey said. “Every penny counts.”

Bailey said even with a flexible schedule, he still struggles with juggling child care and camp schedules for his two daughters.

Hochul said the funding for child care will also include money for training for child care workers. She said day care is much more than just “babysitting.”

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.