Katie Falzetta and her family. Photo by Erika Bailey, provided by Adirondack Foundation
Across the Adirondack region, individuals, businesses, organizations, and communities have continuously demonstrated their Spirit of Generosity by investing in one of our most pressing needs: early childhood education. But there’s still much to be done.
Finding affordable child care is a challenge for nearly everyone, but especially so for single-parent households and working families with mid to low-wage jobs. Adirondack Foundation, through its Birth to Three Alliance, has heard countless stories of parents who struggle to balance work with raising their children — and in many cases, the two things are inseparable.
Take Katie Falzetta, for example. Katie has two children with her husband, who works full-time as a project coordinator at a local manufacturing company in Plattsburgh, where he earns less than $20 per hour. When we first met Katie, she was 29 years old. A graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh, she was working two part-time jobs and the cost of child care was preventing her from advancing her professional career. Even when she was offered some additional hours, the math did not add up: the money she could earn would not be enough to pay for child care.
Luckily, through a state-funded pilot program at the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, Katie was able to get financial support to enroll her then-16-month-old son in daycare full time. This allowed her to advance her career — going from 15 hours a week to 35 — to help moms and young children with nutrition assistance.
The downside of Katie’s story, however, is that the program she benefitted from is no longer available and investment in early childhood education is still severely lacking — for every success story, there are dozens more instances of parents who are forced to make difficult choices. The challenges also extend to the providers in two primary ways: there aren’t enough licensed providers to meet the needs in our region and most providers do not earn a living wage.
Philanthropy plays a role in helping to alleviate some of these problems. Many generous donors are supporting early childhood programs. And the Foundation’s Birth to Three Alliance brings together key stakeholders working in unison to support early childhood initiatives. We are at a critical moment to build on this local Spirit of Generosity by maximizing the impact of stimulus funds coming into our region through the American Rescue Plan Act. We need to ensure eligible parents take advantage of child care scholarships for essential workers. We need to ensure that child care providers apply for and receive stabilization funds so they can invest in their businesses. We need to celebrate the child tax credit and advocate for it to become permanent. We need to encourage local government leaders to prioritize child care as part of their economic revitalization plans for stimulus funds.
We stand ready to work together as a community to leverage public-private partnerships to help kids realize their full potential, lift up the profession of early childhood educators, and make parenting easier for everyone. If early childhood education is of interest to you, I encourage you to visit our Birth to Three Alliance website to learn more about our work in this area.
All summer long, Adirondack Foundation is celebrating the Spirit of Generosity by highlighting stories about the generous people, organizations, and collaborations that enrich the lives of people in the Adirondacks. Every Saturday, Adirondack Almanack is sharing an essay by Cali Brooks, President and CEO, about some of the people and programs that Adirondack Foundation invests in and partners with to enhance the lives of people in the Adirondacks through philanthropy. Readers can win the opportunity to direct a grant to an organization that aligns with the Foundation’s Generous Acts program. To enter, simply create a social media post that captures what generosity means to you and tag Adirondack Foundation’s accounts.