Child Care Resources of Rockland, Inc. has faced a myriad of challenges since it was first founded in 1974 when Phyllis Helbraun, with a grant from the National Council of Jewish Women, Rockland Section established the Day Care and Child Development Council. We invite you to read more about CCRR’s history and about the changes, challenges, and growth of the last year as we look to the future.
View the 2021-2022 Financial Position.
2021-2022 Annual Report
Executive Director's Message
FY22 was a year with exciting opportunities and many challenges. Still in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, CCRR was thrilled to learn of new funding for children and families added to the NYS budget in April 2021. While advocates had hoped for $5 billion, the over $2 billion added to the state’s budget was impactful. The funding immediately allowed for the expansion of Universal Prekindergarten. The new Business Support initiatives put in place by the NYC Office of Children and Family Services led to the new Child Care Stabilization Grant. Additional federal funding was made available for the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
In addition to the direct impact these initiatives had on child care providers, these investments also impacted Rockland’s economy. Child care workers remained employed, and providers stayed open to care for children while their parents and caregivers worked. The vast majority of providers’ purchases of food, supplies, and other goods and services were made in Rockland County.
Yet, CCRR still faced challenges throughout the year. Staffing shortages that plagued the child care industry added to providers’ frustration. We faced our own staffing challenges at CCRR which affected our ability to offer professional development. But with a strong commitment to addressing providers’ frustration, we still managed to offer successful and innovative professional development opportunities for providers, whether smaller, in-person sessions or virtually.
We continued to offer our Provider and Director Network meetings providing a place for providers to share their successes and challenges. We afforded interested parties the opportunity to learn more about opening a child care program.
A notable moment during the year was the opening of Rising Stars Nursery School in the Fall of 2021. We worked with the owner to certify the site as a UPK site, and just as she started accepting children, the site suffered a fire. We were able to help her quickly learn and complete the emergency licensing requirements for her school age program, also located in the building, to re-open in a safe, new location - allowing for little disruption in the children's care.
All in all, as has been the tradition of CCRR for almost 50 years, the organization pulled together to affect great change, support child care providers, and assure the healthy development of all children. As we look to the next period in CCRR’s future, we anticipate great strides will again be made at the national, state, regional and local levels to positively impact the lives of children, their families, our providers, and the future of Rockland County. - Vicki Caramante, Executive Director
Message From President
Many in our community are still feeling the financial hardships from COVID-19. The impact on the child care system and the hardships placed on many parents who are without affordable, accessible child care are all too well known.
Child care providers are essential to the success and well-being of working families across our county. One of the many lessons we learned during the pandemic was that we cannot move families ahead if we leave child care providers behind. Moreover, affordable child care is essential to our economic recovery.
On May 20th, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the largest investment in child care subsidies in New York State history would be distributed—$2 billion to increase the number of families receiving child care financial assistance and the amount child care providers are paid for their essential services. The $2 billion in child care subsidies includes $894 million in New York State Child Care Block Grant new funding passed in the recent State Budget, more than $500 million in funds previously allocated to local departments of social services districts that remain unspent, and more than $600 million in existing COVID-19 pandemic funding.
There can be no debate that affordable child care is an essential service and all of us must do everything we can to make sure that every family that needs it has access to it. Child Care Resources of Rockland has always been and remains fully committed to this principle. Our staff and volunteers believe that all children deserve quality child care and early education and each day we redouble our efforts to achieve that goal. - Stephen M. Fromson, President, Board of Directors
We welcomed new Board Members Maria Barca, Nilesh Patel, and Monica Zenda. By the end of the year Dr. Sarah Chauncey and Nilesh Patel stepped away from the Board because of changes in their professional lives. Nancy Cutler and Jessica Werk stepped away from the Board at the end of their term of office.
CCRR’s staff is the essence of this organization. Their passion, knowledge, expertise, and dedication to CCRR, its mission, and to children is unparalleled.
In the last year, we bade farewell to our long-serving Director of Program Standards and Professional Development Services Elaine Trotta, and Director of Family, Community, and Operations Services Karen Ross. We also welcomed five new team members during FY22. PreK Quality Enhancement Specialist Diahann Darwood; Data and Operations Associate Kevin Doorley; Health Care Consultant/Nurse Nathalie Lavalas, R.N.; Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Melissa Pensabene; and Business Support Coordinator Allison Wojciechowski.
CCRR has been and remains a leader among statewide and county-wide advocates. In partnership with scores of nonprofits across New York State and Rockland, CCRR has a strong history of promoting the importance of access to quality child care and providing professional development opportunities that improve that quality. Over the course of several statewide advocacy sessions, we spoke out about the needs of children, families, and the nonprofits themselves.
In the Fall of 2021, we facilitated a visit by NYS Senator Jabari Brisport of Brooklyn to The Magic Garden group family child care program in Stony Point. The Senator spoke for over an hour with the provider about the challenges she faced during the pandemic and the needs of child care programs going forward.
In collaboration with the resource and referral agencies in the Mid-Hudson, CCRR co-sponsored a Regional Advocacy meeting in February and a follow up session in May with the state legislative delegation. Efforts like these led directly to NY State:
- Expanding eligibility for child care subsidies to 300% of the federal poverty level, meaning an eligible family of four earning up to $83,250 ($54,930 for a family of 2) will be eligible for assistance to pay for child care. This increase stands to make tens of thousands of New York families newly eligible for child care assistance.
- Capping copays for families with income less than 300% of the federal poverty level at 10% of income over the federal poverty level. This means a family of 4 with an income at 300% of the federal poverty level would pay no more than $5,550 annually for child care; a family of 2 no more than $3,662)
- Increasing the market rate, used as a basis for provider reimbursement, from the 69th to the 80th percentile.
- Investing $343 million to continue stabilization funds for child care providers, with 75% of the funds to be used for “workforce initiatives,” including wage increases, bonuses, tuition reimbursement, and contributions to staff retirement plans and health insurance costs.
- $50 million to establish a child care capital program. This will allow child care providers to apply for flexible capital grants for expenses related to the design, construction, rehabilitation, improvement, furnishing, or equipping of new or existing child care facilities.
- $100 million expansion of Universal Prekindergarten plus $25 million for grants to expand Statewide Universal Prekindergarten (full day PreK).
These investments are significant, but more is needed. We join our colleagues across the state seeking a universal child care system in New York State.
We also continued to advocate for fully funded, truly universal Prekindergarten that updates state funding formulas to reflect the true cost of providing PreK services for the community-based child care programs that host the vast majority of PreK seats in Rockland. The current allocation of an average of $2500 per year per child for 2.5 hours per day for 180 school days equates to $5.56 per hour paid to providers per child – far, far below the rate for an early elementary (K-2) reimbursement.
At the Federal level, we hoped for transformative investment in child care. While we were disappointed child care was removed from consideration by Congress, we hope for and support investment in child care in a future federal budget.
According to a February 2020 essay published by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, “High-quality early care and education promotes children’s development and learning, and narrows socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic inequalities while promoting parental employment and family self-sufficiency, yet most existing programs in the United States are expensive and difficult for parents to juggle alongside their jobs.” Investment in families and in child care is essential to our future as a society.
Poverty in the United States: 2021 (census.gov)
FINANCIAL AND HUMAN RESOURCE SERVICES
With revenues over $3 million and a pass-through budget of almost $850,000, our Department assures that revenues and expenses are managed well. Under the guidance of our auditor, we improved the process of tracking receivables which gave us a clearer picture of quarterly finances. We remained on track with all accounts payable and accounts receivable processes, employee compensation and benefits programs, and general administration functions.
CCRR’s unaudited financials for FY22 showed our Annual Agency Budget of $2,279,094.00 with $2,411,007.38 in Total Assets, and $2,411,007.38 in total Liabilities and Reserves. Revenue totaled $3,010,007.19 and expenses totaled $2,291,894.34, leaving a surplus of $718,112.85.
In September 2021, the federal government authorized Emergency Operating funds for child care providers and administrators of the Child and Adult Care Food Program to offset pandemic losses. As a result, CCRR successfully acted as facilitator of payments totaling $54,218,19 to 63 participating home-based child care providers.
As administrator of state-funded Prekindergarten for seven of Rockland’s eight school districts, CCRR placed 975 children into the Universal or Statewide Universal Full Day Prekindergarten seats in 29 community-based child care programs. CCRR’s Financial and Human Resources Department worked across the agency to invoice school districts for payments to the providers. The team faced several invoicing challenges throughout the school year, and we continued to adjust procedures to assure attendance tracking and program compliance resulting in accurate record-keeping and invoicing.
Child Care Business Support
In 2021, the NY State budget included $2.3 billion to support child care providers. CCRR was pleased to be chosen by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), along with our resource and referral counterparts statewide, to provide business support to child care providers. This grant has allowed us to provide business support services and technical assistance to child care providers as they applied for and received funds from the Child Care Stabilization Grants and the Invest in NY Child Care Deserts Grant. These initiatives are intended to support the stabilization, creation and expansion of child care programs throughout Rockland County and New York State.
In September 2021, CCRR hired Allison Wojciechowski as Business Support Coordinator. She and the Director of Financial and Human Resources participated in a Training of Trainers series enabling them to facilitate various forms of professional development, including an 18-hour Core Business professional development series for child care providers; various information sessions; and one-on-one intensive technical assistance. Additionally, the Director of Financial and Human Resources was tapped by the Early Care and Learning Council to facilitate a workshop for providers on Braiding and Blending funds. Geared to child care providers that receive funding from multiple sources, this training focused on effectively managing funding streams and business budgets. Together, these trainings brought in an additional $13,500 of workshop revenue.
Our Business Support Coordinator is the primary contact for Rockland’s child care providers as they navigated the Child Care Stabilization Grant and the Invest in NY Child Care Deserts Grant and reporting processes. Allison delivered over 1300 hours of technical assistance to providers on grant qualifications and requirements, navigating the application portal, and acting on behalf of providers to troubleshoot and resolve their more complicated difficulties. Office hours and information sessions were offered to child care providers about the grants, including five on how to become a provider.
All in all, 205 providers in Rockland County, 98% of our providers at that time, applied for and were awarded over $14 million in Stabilization Grants, directly impacting 9890 child care slots in the county.
FAMILY, COMMUNITY AND OPERATIONS SERVICES
The Family, Community and Operations Services Department is responsible for assisting families as they plan for their child care needs. With the retirement of Department Director Karen Ross in December of 2021, former Resource and Referral Coordinator Christina Espindola was promoted to the position.
Over the course of the year, the team provided referrals for families looking for child care; information and resources for families and providers; connected and educated families and community stakeholders; coordinated and managed events and fundraisers; marketed and communicated; collected, analyzed, and reported data; administered the Child Care Tuition Scholarship and Respite Services programs; administered Universal PreK; and managed the technology and administrative needs of the board and staff.
Parent and Community Engagement/Marketing and Communications
Engaging our families and the wider community helps them learn about and understand critical child care and child development issues. The pandemic continued to impact our sponsoring of and our participation in external events. In April 2022, we resumed our annual Children’s Champions Celebration which honors a group of individuals for their outstanding service in working with young children and their families in Rockland County.
Telephone calls and emails remained our primary method of interaction. CCRR staff fielded in the fiscal year over 2500 telephone calls, exclusive of PreK. The vast majority, over 50%, of calls were between 5 and 15 minutes each. Each of those calls represents a critical need for quality child care in Rockland County. As the teams learned and implemented new practices and procedures, our Data and Operations Specialist identified areas where data collection practices were weak and was able to create and provide more efficient tools for data collection.
Our secondary forms of communication and community engagement include all forms of digital marketing. E-blasts, our website, and our social media platforms allowed us to reach our target audience in a wide and cost-effective manner. Weekly newsletters and updates continued to be used to share pertinent information. We focused on growing our social media audience by actively campaigning for followers and posting consistently. Almost all email blasts are now posted to our social media accounts to ensure we are sharing information as widely as possible. Our posts were consistent and our followers and engagement continued to grow across all platforms.
We also noticed a significant increase in the visibility of our email campaigns. FY22 closed with an open rate of 36% which is an 18% increase from last year. Open rates are email marketing metrics that measure the percentage rate at which emails are opened. This is an indicator that we are reaching our audience and they continue to find the information we share relevant to their needs. A total of 208 email blasts were sent to our audience of 6,156 people.
Data is collected to support organizational decision-making and strategy. To maximize the usefulness of data, one must first optimize the data collection processes, and in the past year we have worked to improve those processes. One case is our training records. Data that was once tracked in a static Excel spreadsheet moved to a relational database in Microsoft Access and finally to the statewide Empire State Child Care Match system managed by the Early Care and Learning Council. Moving forward we are looking to shift our monthly reporting to strictly web-based to improve data integrity. We continue to identify new ways to collect, store, and organize information that can improve our agency.
In FY22, we undertook our triennial Salary and Tuition survey of child care providers which seeks to analyze salaries and child care tuitions in Rockland County to help child care providers assess their budgets and determine the true cost of care. This report was released in the Spring of 2022.
Child Care Resource and Referral Services
CCRR holds contracts with the NYS Office of Family and Children’s Services and with the Rockland County Legislature to provide funding for our resource and referral services – connecting families with child care that meets their needs. In FY22, CCRR provided 461 families with child care referrals. Of those, 239 contacted us by telephone and 220 contacted us using our online form, up from 132 online requests last year. This 67% increase is a trend accelerated by the pandemic.
Of the 461 families, 76 reported their income below 200% of poverty ($50,200 for a family of four), making them eligible for Child Care Subsidy, compared to 45 families last year. Sixteen requested nontraditional hours (evenings, overnight, or weekends) compared to 17 last year.
The number of referrals continued to decrease in FY22 compared to last year. The combination of the Delta and Omicron variants of the COVID-19 virus, the lack of a vaccine for children under age 5, and the economic impact of the pandemic deeply affected families’ willingness/ability to access child care, and many families who sought child care referrals ultimately decided to not place their child in care.
The vast majority of Prekindergarten seats are housed in community-based child care programs. CCRR Prekindergarten Quality Enhancement Specialists, tasked with monitoring and improving the quality of curriculum, offered visited each of the 54 classrooms located in 29 locations four to five times throughout the year. They offered guidance, resources, curriculum development, monitoring, and evaluation for a total of approximately 600 hours of professional development and technical assistance. This included coursework about curriculum and assessment. Our specialists also facilitated two additional information session for families about the transition from Prekindergartern to Kindergarten.
New funding for Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) was allocated to school districts for the school year beginning July 1, 2021. This funding had the potential to add over 15,000 new seats statewide, with 410 assigned to Rockland County. With this new UPK funding came the need to find additional physical space to seat children.
We worked closely with providers to figure out the best possible solutions to accommodating Prekindergarten, however, funding limits, space constraints, the lack of qualified child care staff meant only about 10% of Rockland’s new UPK seats could be filled.
CCRR received over 1100 applications for Prekindergarten seats in every school district except East Ramapo, which self-administers their program. CCRR worked with each of those families to help them determine the best program placement for their child, often talking families through their concerns about having children in a classroom without the benefit of a COVID-19 vaccine or about masking requirements. Ultimately, approximately 10% of Prekindergarten students withdrew or asked to change their program site for reasons such as transportation challenges; relocating; changes in students’ needs; or because families were uncomfortable with their child attending school.
With the expansion of Prekindergarten came greater oversight by the NYS Education Department and, coupled with CCRR’s own staffing challenges, the school districts ultimately chose to administer Prekindergarten in-house for the following school year.
CCRR Tuition Scholarships, though few, are a vital resource for families. As noted earlier, the COVID-19 pandemic deeply affected family incomes.
As has been mentioned often, the United Way identifies families considered Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, and Employed in their ALICE Report; people like child care workers who, “cannot always pay the bills, have little or nothing in savings, and are forced to make tough choices such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent.” According to the report, child care is the greatest portion - $1485 or 23% - of the $6513 monthly Household Survival Budget for a family of two adults with two children in child care.
The future success of our communities is directly tied to the financial stability of these fragile ALICE households. In Rockland County, 41% of households are below the ALICE threshold, which shows that a family of four with two children in care needs approximately $108,000 per year to just make ends meet, not accounting for recent inflationary increases to food, gas, and other goods.
CCRR is fortunate to receive from the United Way of Rockland County a Community Impact Grant which, along with the Jane Brown Tuition Scholarship, supports our Child Care Tuition Scholarship program. In FY22, eight children were enrolled in this program. However, we consistently have a waiting list of ten to twelve families, and an even greater number who choose not to add their names to the list because of the lack of scholarship funding.
Looking ahead, we are thrilled the NYS Legislature included in the FY2022-2023 budget expanded eligibility for child care subsidies to 300% of the federal poverty level. An eligible family of four earning up to $83,250 ($54,930 for a family of 2) will be eligible for assistance to pay for child care. This increase stands to make tens of thousands of New York families newly eligible for child care tuition assistance.
Respite Care Tuition Assistance
CCRR also holds a contract with the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities to assist families of children with special needs to access appropriate child care and appropriate respite care. For respite services, CCRR distributes a tuition scholarship to offset the cost of care for families. In FY22, eight children received scholarships. The total amount of respite funds distributed in FY22 was $11,704.85.
Legally Exempt Enrollment
Child Care Resources of Rockland, Inc. is contracted by OCFS to serve as enrollment agency for the county; Ines Ortiz is the Legally Exempt Coordinator.
A provider who is not registered/licensed but cares for a child whose parent(s) has been approved for Child Care Assistance Program payments by the Department of Social Services (DSS) is required to be enrolled with the Legally Exempt Child Care Enrollment Agency. Providers will often be a family member or friend. Parents who qualify for this type of care must be approved for the Child Care Assistance Program administered by the Department of Social Services.
Depending on the relationship of the provider to the child, the Legally Exempt providers may have to go through a Comprehensive Background Check (CBC). CCRR facilitates the process by which the applicant submits their paperwork for both CBCs, etc.
In FY22, 26 Legally Exempt providers were enrolled, 10 of which went through the CBC process, and 24 Providers closed. Inspections of Legally Exempt providers who are CBC eligible were suspended until March 2022 due to COVID. Once these inspections resumed, CCRR conducted three through June.
PROGRAM STANDARDS AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
This department supports child care providers by offering professional development and technical assistance to meet regulatory requirements and provide quality child care. In FY22 we continued to offer these services virtually and moved to begin offering sessions in-person with small class sizes and COVID-19 protocols in place.
A highlight was our first-ever virtual Annual Conference on Saturday, November 6, 2021, Building Resilience in Children. The conference addressed how traumatic experiences can impact a child’s health, brain development, behaviors, and overall social-emotional well-being. About 30 participants had the rare opportunity to watch KPJR Films’ award-winning and sought-after movie, “Resilience – The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope.” Presentations and workshops were facilitated by Leeann Folgleson,MSed, PhD and Natalie Hong M.S. of Kurtz Psychology an internationally recognized child psychology practice. Discussions provided theory and practical solutions for providers working with children who may be impacted by what is known as Adverse Childhood Experiences. Participants received three professional development hours in the required component areas of ACEs and Principles of Childhood Development. Assemblyman Kenneth Zabrowski provided a Legislative Member Grant that covered the cost of the conference.
Infant Toddler Regional Network
CCRR’s Infant Toddler Specialist, Jenny Spampinato, continued working to support as well as build capacity for child care providers in Rockland County, assisting them through a hybrid of virtual and onsite Basic Technical Assistance (BTA) and Intensive Technical Assistance (ITA). Jenny completed a total of 174 units of BTA and 87.5 hours of ITA. Having previously earned the New York State Training and Technical Assistance Professional Credential, Jenny was able to provide 34 hours of professional development for providers and gave them continuing education units.
In further support of quality infant and toddler care, Jenny facilitated quarterly Better Baby Care Campaign meetings and managed the Creating Breastfeeding Friendly Communities grant from the Rockland County Department of Health. This grant helped in conducting outreach for the Infant Toddler Regional Network allowing for a multitude of opportunities to explain the services offered. To date, a total of 31 providers have completed the process and earned their Breastfeeding Friendly Designations.
Infant Toddler Mental Health Consultation Project
The Infant Toddler Mental Health Consultation Project focuses on collaboration to support a state-wide model of quality infant toddler mental health consultation that strives to improve children’s social and emotional functioning, reduce challenging behaviors, and impact the prevalence of suspensions and expulsions of children of color.
What makes this project unique is an intentional focus on service to infant and toddler caregivers of children up to 36 months of age. CCRR’s Infant Toddler Mental Health Consultant, Simone Smith, worked with Red Owl Academy in Palisades, NY to assess the infant and toddler rooms. Her presence helped in the development and implementation of goals that supported the adult caregivers and improved the environment to better support the children.
Simone consistently conducts outreach to assure that any child care program serving infants and toddler can access her services, receive valuable resource information, and can formally participate in the consultation project. She remains a resource for child care providers seeking strategies to implement in their classrooms.
Health Care Consultancy
CCRR employs a Registered Nurse to offer Health Care Consultancy (HCC) Services for child care providers including review and approval of required program health care plans, policies, and procedures. The HCC conducts site visits, offers training on the administration of medication in the child care program, and presents resources and information to providers and families seeking answers to myriad health questions.
While this position was vacant for the first quarter of FY22, Nathalie Lavalas, RN, was hired in September and immediately dived in to introducing herself to our providers and learning about their needs. By June 30, 2022, Nathalie completed reviewing 36 health care plans. Nathalie was also responsible for working with Prekindergarten providers to assist them in reviewing student immunization records and on their reporting requirements to the New York State Department of Health.
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
Access to healthy meals is foundational to children's ability to learn and thrive. Not all Rockland's children have consistent access to healthy foods. The federally funded CACFP program helps address that need by reimbursing participating child care providers for a portion of the cost of food served during care that meets USDA guidelines. The pandemic continued to impact the CACFP program. During the first quarter, site visits were conducted by telephone or teleconference. In September, CACFP Coordinator Teresa Ortega was able to resume in-person visits on a limited basis. All told, Teresa conducted 91 site visits and offered five virtual mandated training sessions between September and December 2021. All participating providers attended.
Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2021, providers returned to the CACFP program, particularly those who were closed for the pandemic and several new providers enrolled.
Because of the pandemic the federal government allowed for all CACFP participants to move to a Tier 1 reimbursement, which meant providers who had previously been in Tier 2 now a high rate of reimbursement, something that was deeply appreciated because it helped offset some of the higher costs of food seen later in the year.
Visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/cacfp/meals-and-snacks to review program guidelines regarding the differences in meals and snacks.
Our Registration Team is responsible for registering and monitoring family day care (FDC) and school age child care (SACC) programs. All are subject to completing an initial application, mid-point reviews, and completing renewals every four years. Our team conducts annual inspections, monitor visits, renewal visits, responds to complaints of illegal child care, and provides training and technical assistance to new and existing child care staff. In FY 22, our team completed the processing of 10 initial applications, inspecting 12 sites (2 applications were withdrawn); processed 24 mid-point applications; processed and inspected nine sites’ renewal applications; responded to 18 complaints; and conducted 37 annual unannounced site visits.
We work hard to ensure long-term sustainability of our organization in order to best serve all of our constituents and have a responsibility to our funders, our donors, and the community. Learn more about our programs and services by reading our Annual Report Our IRS Form 990 is available upon request. We are available Monday-Friday, from 8:30 am-5:00 pm. Please give us a call at 845-425-0009 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to make a donation to help support high-quality child care, please click here.