According to reports by the Times Union and NY Post, the Legislative Office Building near the Capitol in Albany has been equipped with a daycare room that was reportedly approved by Speaker Carl Heastie. The daycare is reportedly unlicensed and managed by two aides who work in the building. The daycare was allegedly started earlier this year with the intention of assisting lawmakers with childcare. According to reports, the daycare was used by Democratic lawmakers.
The daycare reportedly operated unlicensed and unregistered. It was operating without the knowledge and authorization of both the state Office of General Services and the state Office of Children and Family Services. These offices manage state buildings and regulate daycare facilities. The story of the unlicensed and unregistered daycare was broken by The Times Union on Friday, April 29th. On the same day, the Office of Children and Family Services released a statement announcing the issue would be investigated.
“As the state oversight authority, OCFS will investigate after it is made aware of an alleged unlicensed or unregistered program,” Solomon Syed, a spokesman for the OCFS wrote in a statement.
“OGS informs tenants that they must adhere to any applicable regulations,” the statement reads. “The appropriate regulatory agency oversees and investigates questions regarding compliance.”
Heastie’s office issued a response through spokesperson Kerri Biche. “We know we have a need to provide the working parents with some assistance,” said Biche. “We kind of developed this drop-in center as a trial.… Investing in a childcare structure is expensive and has a lot of resources, so before we did that we needed to know exactly what the needs are.… It’s available to any legislator who has parenting needs.”
Assemblywoman Phara Souffrant Forrest, a Democrat, spoke in favor of the day care. “Nobody asks how Mama Legislators do it and simply accept that we just do. We can’t do it alone. Thank you for the supportive community David and I have found in and out of the halls of Albany!” she tweeted.
Assemblyman Jarrett Gandolfo, a Republican, criticized the daycare and labeled the Democrats hypocrites for proposing legislation that fights the same thing they were doing by operating a daycare without a license or registration. Gandolfo, who is a father to a three-year-old, called the daycare unfair.
“We’re talking about an unregistered daycare being run by untrained legislative staffers. A few Democrats even carry bills to crack down on unregistered childcare facilities. It’s hypocritical,” Gandolfo said.