ALBANY, N.Y. (WENY) - Governor Kathy Hochul announced that nearly $70 million in grant funding has been awarded to newly licensed, registered or permitted child care programs in areas of the state without sufficient child care slots, known as child care deserts. 

In the Southern Tier, $4.1 million in funding will be distributed.

The funds are part of the $100 million care desert initiative approved in the Fiscal Year 20-22 Budget.

The grants will help new child care providers in underserved areas build their programs, cover start-up and personnel costs, and support staff in accessing COVID-19 vaccines.

The governor's office said that the legislation will help make diapers more affordable by exempting adult and children's diapers from all sales taxes.

"Expanding child care options for working families is personal to me. As a young mom, I had to leave my job due to lack of access to affordable child care," Governor Hochul said. "I want to thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and the Congressional delegation for helping secure this critical funding. New York remains committed to eradicating child care deserts, and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure all parents have access to this vital lifeline."

For this funding opportunity, a child care desert is defined as a census tract where there are three or more children younger than five for each available child care slot, or there are no available child care slots in the tract.

Based on this criteria, more than 60 percent of New York State is considered a child care desert.

All census tracts in New York State have been mapped to identify deserts. Anyone can review the child care desert map to find out if they live in a child care desert.

Additional information about the grant can be found in the RFA.