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Sullivan leads drop in Hudson Valley childcare centers

Update on Head Start

Alex Kielar
Posted 3/8/24

SULLIVAN COUNTY – Over the past 15 years, the number of licensed childcare providers in the Hudson Valley has been on the decline, with Sullivan County at the forefront of that downward trend. …

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Sullivan leads drop in Hudson Valley childcare centers

Update on Head Start


SULLIVAN COUNTY – Over the past 15 years, the number of licensed childcare providers in the Hudson Valley has been on the decline, with Sullivan County at the forefront of that downward trend. 

A new Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress report, released by President and CEO Adam Bosch on Monday, February 26, gives a detailed look at the state of healthcare in the region. The report states that the Hudson Valley has lost more than 27 percent of its licensed childcare facilities in the past decade and a half. 

According to the report, Sullivan County has the second-highest percentage drop in the Hudson Valley since 2007, going from 118 licensed providers to 45 in 2023 — a 61.9 percent decrease. 

The only county in that region to have a higher percent decrease in licensed childcare is Columbia County at 63.9 percent. The report shows that there were 2,168 licensed childcare seats in 2023 for Sullivan. With the population of children 10 years old and younger in the county being 8,846, that equals just 0.25 seats per child; and that’s without including the recent shutdown of Sullivan County Head Start (SCHS) as the report includes data from 2007 to 2023. 

SCHS abruptly shut its doors on Friday, February 2, after relinquishing its grant and is yet to re-open. 

According to a map of the childcare centers around the Hudson Valley provided by Pattern for Progress, 10 of the active licensed childcare providers have been in operation from 2007 to 2023, excluding Head Start. There are also six active providers located at the same location as old providers that were active in 2007. 

“Childcare plays an important role in our society,” Bosch said. “It helps our youngest children get a jumpstart on their education, and it boosts regional labor participation by allowing parents to get to work.”


Interim opening 

expected soon

Sullivan County Health and Human Services Commissioner, John Liddle, reported at County Legislature last month that it would take about a month to reopen once an interim management company came aboard to assist with the reopening of Head Start. 

Community Development Institute (CDI) Head Start is the management company assigned to provide Head Start (HS) and Early Head Start (EHS) services for the county on an interim basis, starting on Monday, February 12. 

The program’s name is referred to as Woodbourne and Monticello, NY HS/EHS and more information on the interim management firm can be found on their website, www.cdiheadstart.org/WoodbourneMonticello.

This coming Tuesday, March 12 will be the month marking of when CDI came on as the interim company. There has yet to be a specific reopening date to be set as of presstime on Thursday, March 7. 

“There is no dropdead start date [to reopen] yet,” District 3 Legislator Brian McPhillips said, “but we are getting there.”

Brian McPhillips, who is also a Head Start board member, said that CDI went through the hiring and onboarding process last week. He also said that a large majority of the Head Start staff is returning. 

He also said that Head Start is also keeping their current board and hope to secure a future grant that would put Head Start back into the hands of the county.  

“CDI is not a long-term company or solution,” Brian McPhillips said. 

CDI said in statement on February 12, “The role of CDI HS is to provide services to children and families until a replacement grantee is selected by the federal Office of Head Start. This could be several months or longer.”

Brian McPhillips said that the grant is an open competition grant, so anyone can apply and they can do so through January 2025. The winner of the grant is then to be announced in April of 2025 and go through March of 2026. 

He also said that CDI was awarded $10,000 in funding  and believes they will serve out the rest of the current term. They currently have funding available to operate through the end of the 2023-24 school year. At that point, Brian McPhillips said that they will then request for more funding to operate through the end of the calendar year.


Affect on workforce

The report from Pattern for Progress also states that the number one support service that business owners in the Mid-Hudson Valley need but are unable to provide is childcare, when surveyed by Empire State Development and the Department of Labor in 2023. The percentage of employees who answered the survey with childcare assistance was 41 percent. 

Childcare availability, or lack thereof, and costs have affected the workforce in the Hudson Valley. An example given by the report related to Sullivan County was that a local government in the county explained that two of its top candidates for a civil service job turned down the position because they could not find open childcare slots for their children. 


Congressman Molinaro calls for change

U.S. Rep. Marc Molinaro (NY-19) sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and called on HHS, which administers Head Start through the Office of Head Start, to provide a stronger oversight over local Head Start programs including Sullivan County. 

Since the closure last month, Molinaro has worked to investigate the reason for the sudden closure and has assisted the county in finding a new temporary and permanent Head Start provider, as well as connecting over 60 families that were impacted to alternate facilities. 

“While we continue our work to find a new temporary and permanent provider in Sullivan, we also need to take steps now to prevent an incident like this from ever happening again,” Molinaro said. “I’m calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to step up and implement strong oversight measures of the Head Start program.”

Questions that Molinaro raised in the letter to Becerra were: 

Why did the Sullivan Head Start close so abruptly?

What are the oversight functions HHS employs on Head Start facilities across the United States?

More specifically, what information about the Sullivan Head Start did HHS have ahead of the closure that may have indicated a forthcoming closure?

What systems are in place at HHS to ensure Head Start students do not face service interruptions?

What notification requirements are in place to ensure families are given an adequate warning about potential Head Start service interruptions?  

Molinaro concluded the letter by saying, “Taking steps to prevent this from happening anywhere in America can only be a benefit and ought to be a goal.”


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