Day care costs

It was about three years ago when the Rainbow Play School in Gloversville began to see a change in the number of local families able to pay for day care services.

Rainbow Play School, located at 229 Kingsboro Ave., is a licensed day care facility with a capacity of 35 children. Rainbow’s Director Sheri De Magistris said it used to be typical for her school to be at capacity with a waiting list, but then the numbers dropped into the 20s and have recently fallen to the lowest they’ve ever been.

“We can have as many as 35 children per day and we’re down some days to 14, because people just can’t afford it anymore,” De Magistris said.

Last year the nonprofit organization Child Care Aware published a study called “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care 2013 Report.” The report ranked New York state the second most expensive state in the U.S. for child care expenses. Oregon was the most expensive.

According to the report, which used U.S. Census Bureau data from 2012, the average two parent family in New York state spent 16.5 percent of their annual income on child care services. The average annual cost in New York was $14,939, which is 57 percent of the median income of single mothers in the state.

On Tuesday U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-NY, released her own report, using information from the U.S. Census Bureau and the New York state Office of Children and Family Services, that showed how the number of working mothers with small children has been steadily increasing. Gillibrand’s report showed that in 1975 only 39 percent of mothers with young children worked outside the home, but by 2005 that had risen to 63 percent.

Gillibrand’s report showed county by county child care costs throughout New York state. According to the report, in Fulton County there are 2,617 families with children under the age of 6 and 2,565 such families in Montgomery County. The estimated annual cost of childcare is identical for both counties: for infants younger than 1 1/2 years old the annual cost is $9,880; the cost goes down slightly to $9,360 for children between 1 1/2 years old to 2 years old, then down to $8,840 for children aged 3 to 5 and then down again to $8,320 for children aged 6 to 12.

Heather Loucks, the director of Many Happy Adventures Daycare and Learning Center in Johnstown, said costs are greater for infants because of state regulations.

“One of the things that costs a lot to staff is that you have to have an infant room, because you can’t combine infants with any other age group, so you could have one infant here for only four hours but you need one staff member for that child,” she said.

To help curb the increasing costs of child care, Gillibrand has proposed the following:

  • Increasing the current child and dependent care tax credit from 35 percent of child care expenses up to $1,050 per child to $3,000 per child up to 50 percent of child care expenses. The tax credit is refundable, which means lower income families without tax liability can receive the value of the credit.
  • A “Child Care Deduction” that would allow families to deduct up to $14,000, $7,000 each for two children, as a business expense from their taxes.

“The thing that I hear over and over again around the state is the struggle that working families are facing just to get by,” Gillibrand said during a conference call Tuesday. “What we’re seeing is that as expenses are going up, people’s paychecks are staying the same.”

Gillibrand said her proposal is aimed at modernizing the tax code to reflect the greater number of women in the workforce, an increasing number of whom are the primary income earner in their family’s household.

De Magistris said she thinks the proposal is a good idea.

“I think it would help immensely. I know if I had to put my children into day care, I wouldn’t be able to afford it. I don’t know how people do it,” she said.

Gillibrand said she believes her proposal has a chance to win support among Republicans in the House of Representatives because it cuts taxes.