February 2022 Bee Article

As a leader in Government, I have found that over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted problems in our system that have long existed but weren’t directly addressed. Moving forward, we now have the opportunity to make much needed change that will benefit all in our community. Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending a press conference to share the results of a vitally important research study. The Live Well Erie Emergency Child Care Task Force was assembled to determine the “true cost” of child care in our county and to work towards a better system for parents, caregivers, and most importantly, our children.

Changes in our workforce, along with new remote school structures, have left many families searching for new solutions to their children’s care. Unfortunately, the number of child care workers in our community has been significantly declining, now reaching the lowest workforce in a decade. These individuals are also some of the lowest paid workers in our community, though their jobs require advanced training and degrees. Likewise, childcare providers rates, set by New York State, have remained stagnant or seen only minimal increases. Because of this, providers are stuck in the impossible positions of having to pay their workforce fairly, while equally supporting the children they serve, all out of a very limited budget.

According to the data from our county, those surveyed had an average hourly wage of $10.38. The average “living wage” for a single adult is estimated to be $14.59 per hour. As a task force, we understand that these inadequacies are felt not only by those working in the industry themselves, but also by our families and children who rely on their services. Speaking to those who operate centers, 7/10 have said that due to the costs of upkeep and uncompensated hours, they are not able to offer services that they would wish to provide.

During the pandemic many parents, especially working mothers, were forced to reduce their hours or leave the workforce altogether due to a lack of child care options. Labor shortages in any industry have a direct impact on our overall economy, and community as a whole. We’ve also seen numerous childcare centers close their doors over the last two years. As a former working mother, I truly understand the importance of providing accessible, quality child care options to keep these women in their careers and keep our kids healthy.

Using this important information, we hope to continue advocating for policy reforms, local initiatives, and subsidy increases. I look forward to working together with the entire task force towards reaching a solution. It is so important that we make these changes to improve life for our child care workers and to provide our children with the highest quality of care.

I also want to take this opportunity to share some great news for our District’s First Responders. I am proud to announce that I was able to secure $150,000 for the Kenmore Volunteer Fire Department. The funds will assist with essential renovations and improvements to the Nash Road facility, helping our more than 30 volunteers to perform these heroic duties in the Village and nearby communities.

An additional $100,000 will be awarded to the Town of Tonawanda Paramedic Unit. The Town Paramedics have an exemplary reputation in our community, dedicating themselves to providing high quality medical care.

And, if you’re looking for a quick and easy meal on the 27th of this month, the Firehouse at 16 Nash Road will be holding its annual chicken barbeque, with takeout available between 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. What a great way to say “thank you” to the Village firefighters! As always, please feel free to reach out to me at any time via email at lisa.chimera@erie.gov, or to reach my district office by phone, call (716-832-0493).

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03/14/2022 - 3:29 pm