Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner John B. Mattingly and Dr. Ajay Chaudry, the Agency’s Deputy Commissioner for Child Care and Head Start today presented a far-reaching strategy to improve, expand and integrate early child care and education programs throughout New York City over the next two years. They unveiled this major initiative, called “Rethinking Child Care: An Integrated Plan for Early Childhood Development in New York City,” at The Center for New York City Affairs at Milano: The New School for Management and Urban Policy.
“With this plan, we have taken a critically important step towards building the kind of first-class early childhood care system New York City’s families deserve,” said Commissioner Mattingly. “It is an affirmation of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s deep commitment to reforming the current system to further promote the positive development of young children and ensure a better future for them and our City.”
More than 135,000 children under age 6 currently are enrolled in hundreds of subsidized early care and education programs that are operated by Children’s Services, the Human Resources Administration and the Department of Education. In addition, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene licenses all child care centers, including those that are run privately.
The three City agencies oversee a patchwork of diverse services that are provided not only in established, free-standing centers, but in private homes. Approximately half of the children who receive subsidized child care are served in these less formal settings.
Dr. Chaudry noted that this complicated system accommodates only 30 percent of the estimated 275,000 children from low-income families in New York City. Recent breakthrough scientific research on brain development has shown that extraordinary growth and development occur during the early childhood years, before children enter kindergarten. However, child care costs are often the single largest expense in a low-income family’s budget. For some families, this expense can exceed the cost of food, rent and taxes. And many of the high-quality programs are prohibitively expensive for low-income families.
“Rethinking Child Care,” addresses these challenges by accomplishing the following goals:
- Use existing, scarce resources more efficiently by expanding services in areas with the highest needs and changing contracts with child care centers to reflect enrollment and allow programs to better accept voucher and private-pay families.
- Collaborate with community-based providers to simplify enrollment in early childhood programs, assure continuity of care by allowing more parents to be recertified for care subsidies through the mail and provide parents with consistent, coherent and comprehensive information about enrollment and eligibility for all early childhood programs.
- Improve and monitor the quality of care across the system by establishing uniform standards, developing a measurement tool to evaluate contracted care programs, providing more training, technical and administrative assistance to providers and increasing oversight of home-based forms of child care.
- Develop a simplified, unified and comprehensive database for early childhood program providers. Separate systems are now used for different aspects of many of the child care programs.
- Direct resources toward developing and enhancing the facilities where children are cared for.
- Integrate and coordinate different early childhood care services to offer higher quality options that meet a variety of family needs by integrating Child Care and Head Start within ACS and within other City government agencies that offer children’s services.
- Integrate the child care provided by HRA (to recipients and former recipients of public assistance engaged in work activities) within ACS so that there is a single, simpler and streamlined system for child care services for low-income families.
“This plan will benefit not only families and children, but our City as a whole,” said Deputy Commissioner Chaudry. “Inefficient spending will be eliminated and reinvested in children, providers will have fewer administrative burdens, yet receive more support from the City, families will have improved access to higher quality early care and education services and, most importantly, young children will be given greater developmental opportunities. We must put child development first in our City’s goal for children’s early care”
Commissioner Mattingly thanked Deputy Commissioner Chaudry, Associate Commissioner Jennifer L. Marino, and their staffs. “They put together a remarkable plan, which I think has the potential to inform early childhood services nationwide.”
The executive summary for “Rethinking Child Care: An Integrated Plan for Early Childhood Development in New York City,” is available on ACS’s Web site: www.nyc.gov/acs. For a copy of the complete report, call the ACS Office of Communications at 212-341-0999.
Download The executive summary for the plan(200 KB)