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Report: Child care a $612M industry on LI [US]

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Kitchen, Patricia
Publication Date: 
18 Mar 2004

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Until now, most conversation about the child care industry on Long Island centered on parents' frustrations in finding affordable, reputable providers. Now, a study is focusing discussion on child care's economic impact -- as a $612-million industry that employs about 17,000 workers.

A new report from the Child Care Council of Nassau Inc. and the Child care Council of Suffolk Inc. also found that the child-care industry employs more people than the aircraft, hotel/lodging and greenhouse/horticulture industries. Each of those employ 4,600, 5,500 and 14,700 respectively, according to IMPLAN 2000, a mathematical program that draws data from a number of state and federal sources.

The industry on Long Island includes 2,600 small businesses, and among them are regulated community and faith-based centers and home-based establishments that can care for as many as 12 children each. That number does not account for unregulated services or care provided by friends, family and in-house nannies.

The data make a good case for the child-care industry's being treated as a key "part of economic development, just like roads, bridges, water and sewer lines," said Mildred Warner, professor of city and regional planning at Cornell University. She's co-author of the report, along with consultants Keri Klockowski and Louise Stoney.

An industry of that scope and importance, she said, merits economic development policies to help strengthen it -- programs to help those small-business owners improve returns and decrease turnovers. It's an industry in which "the pay is terrible and workers lack career ladders. Yet, they are the earliest educators of our children." And what's to happen, she asked, as grandparents and other older relatives, a major source of unregulated care, choose to stay in the work force longer, themselves?

She would like to see an area task force formed to find ways of supporting the industry, including scholarships from businesses and further subsidies to parents, who could then pay more and enable her to pass on the increase to her 11-person staff. As it is, she said, her top earner gets about $8 an hour. Most child-care workers, she said, "can make more at McDonald's or Burger King &em; and get more respect."

- reprinted Newsday Inc.

Entered Date: 
22 Mar 2004
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