New legislation would provide child care services to officers

CICERO, (WSYR-TV) — Police Departments nationwide, including right here in Central New York are struggling to recruit and hire officers.

But U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is working to fix the issue through a new bipartisan bill that would help officers with children.

One of the greatest challenges officers are facing is not having enough child care support.

“I had an officer that actually left the department to go into another field and a lot of the issues just started to become a parent and that was a concern,” said Robert Pitman, Village of Homer Police Chief and President of the Central New York Chiefs of Police Association.

This is a growing concern for many local departments.

“They got to figure out how can I get my child watched while I am working the midnight shift or the afternoon shift. They might not have family in the area that can do it. So they have to make that decision that you know what, I can’t do this. I am going to find another profession,” said Stephen Amyot, Sergeant of Town of Cicero Police Department.

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But the Providing Child Care for Police Officers Act would help address that issue.

“This bipartisan legislation would provide $24 million in federal funding for each of the next five years to help police departments offer child care services to the children of their officers. It would provide grants to these departments to open their own child care facilities or contract with child care centers,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Pitman says he’s seen officers struggle throughout the years because of this issue.

“Law enforcement is not a Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. job. We are 24/7 and we work odd shifts, we work weekends, we work holidays and trying to find people to watch the children overnight is very difficult and I think this bipartisan legislation is just awesome to help us and like we mentioned here it helps with the recruitment and retention,” said Pitman.

“Having this bipartisan legislation to help fund child care so we know that our kids are safe while we are at work, I mean its just awesome. I can’t speak highly enough for it,” said Pitman.

But child care is just one of the issues officers are facing, leaving agencies of all sizes struggling to fill open positions.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen it here locally, just the danger of the job. Do I really want to go out and protect the community and end up not coming home at the end of my shift,” said Amyot.

But Senator Gillibrand says this new bill would support our brothers and sisters in blue, while keeping our communities safe.

The legislation was first introduced last month. The bill still needs to be passed by the House and Senate. President Biden would then have to sign off for it to become law.

Click here to learn more about the legislation.

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