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A Recovery for All of Us: City to Expand Child Care for Working Families

June 1, 2021

Proposal could expand child care access to 15,000 high need children

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio today announced an initiative to expand low-cost and free child care for thousands of families across New York City. Through the passage of State legislation that would raise the qualifying income threshold for subsidized child care and extend full-time child care support to families who work part-time, the City could expand child care access to an additional 15,000 high-need children. 

"Red tape can’t get in the way of our city’s recovery,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “To really bring our city back, we need our State partners to step up and help more working families qualify for childcare. Together we can beat back COVID and create a stronger and fairer city.” 

“We must put families, and most importantly our children, at the center of our recovery,” said Melanie Hartzog, Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services. “There is no better way to do that than to expand child care access and stabilize the child care sector. Quality early education and care is something every child deserves, and is a proven investment in our future. The need is urgent and we must respond.” 

The Administration has invested significantly in child care and early childhood education through signature programs such as 3k and Pre-K, but the city is seeking to serve even more families and support the child care sector. Many families across the city are struggling with job, economic, health and housing instability, and enabling them to access child care is a critical step towards recovery from the pandemic.  

To start, the City is supporting legislation sponsored by Assembly member Hevesi and State Senator Brisport that could expand child care access to an additional 15,000 children at minimum by:   

  • Enabling NYC to raise the income threshold to 70,000 for a family of four to help more working families qualify for subsidized child care.  
  • Providing full-time child care to people who work 20 hours a week or more.  Under current state law, qualified families only receive child care for the hours they work.   

In addition, New York State has received, but not yet distributed more than $2 billion in federal stimulus money, which would help further expand child care for working families citywide as part of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding, coupled with additional state and federal flexibility, could expand child care access to thousands more families, and provide workforce supports, capacity building and other supports for the child care providers that have provided invaluable care to our children throughout the pandemic. New York City has just submitted a plan to the State detailing the additional flexibility needed to reach families in need of child care. 

Providers and child care workers are the backbone of the City’s child care system and they need access to the flexible federal funding the federal government has allocated specifically to help this critical sector recover from the pandemic.  Furthermore, for families, the current State eligibility and documentation rules are outdated and rigid. While current state legislation is an important first step, New York City is also calling on New York State to work collaboratively to expand access to child care in the neighborhoods hit hardest by COVID and to reduce the administrative burden to families and providers. 

“For New York City to fully recover from the pandemic, we must ensure that all families have the resources and support they need to stabilize their lives.  Ensuring that thousands more children have access to low-cost child care, especially children from communities across the City hit hardest by the pandemic, is an essential step in NYC’s recovery for all.  I thank Senator Brisport and Assembly Member Hevesi for introducing legislation needed to expand access to affordable child care, and I look forward to working with the State to make our plan a reality as quickly as possible,” said ACS Commissioner David A. Hansell.  

“To address the citywide challenges of income inequality, homelessness, and housing instability, we need all levels of government working together to find, develop, test, and implement solutions,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “These reforms would ensure families and working parents facing hard times can access the childcare they need, without jumping through arbitrary hoops, which is good for the whole family – helping children grow and providing parents with vital supports during challenging times. We urge the State to pass this legislation.” 

“Expanding access to child care services is crucial to ensuring an equitable recovery,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “Helping more families access child care will help our city recover quicker and provide much needed services and jobs across New York City.”  

“Access to free and affordable child care is critical to New York City’s recovery from the pandemic, and this legislation would allow thousands of additional families to receive care, including through year round 3-K and Pre-K for All services,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. “Expanding access to child care will give more children a strong start in school and life, while providing a pivotal resource to communities across the City when they need it most.” 

“Child care and early childhood education helps children and their families thrive. Now is the time to get this assistance to as many families as we can,” said Executive Director of the Children’s Cabinet Megan Tackney. “We must do this alongside support for our child care providers, who are the foundation of this critical system.”  

“Covid-19 has exposed what many of us already knew: Childcare is essential to New York’s working families.,” said Representative Yvette Clarke. “It allows parents the safety and peace of mind to go to work knowing that their child is well taken care of.  Not only does childcare provide us with peace of mind, but it is a critical component to a robust economic recovery from the worst public health pandemic in over a century.  Data indicates that the economic hit taken by women has been the most severe and the lack of access to child care makes it impossible for working mothers to gain a foothold in the job market as a result, childcare is essential because it offers stability required to uplift us in our pursuit  of recovery.  As a member of Congress representing the 9th district of New York, I am proud to have played an integral role in fighting for, voting for, and obtaining this funding for the city of New York and I thank Mayor de Blasio for his advocacy and commitment to New Yorkers as he utilizes these federal dollars to expand low-cost and free childcare for thousands of families across our five boroughs.” 

As a young, working mother on the New York City Council, access to affordable and available child care was one of the biggest hurdles I faced both as a parent and legislator,” said Representative Carolyn Maloney. “I am thrilled that New York City is expanding childcare for working families. I’m proud to have helped secure needed federal funding through the American Rescue Plan that will help NYC and others expand this essential service for working families. This program is even more critical as parents head back to work and our city rebuilds from the COVID-19 crisis and exemplary of our efforts to build back better.”

“Throughout the pandemic and before, the struggle to find affordable child care was the final straw for so many working families juggling jobs and parenting,” said Representative Nydia M. Velázquez.  “Reopening and increasing the availability of child care centers will be central to ensuring a just and equitable recovery as we build back our City from the pandemic. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for this initiative that will expand low-cost and free child care to an additional 15,000 children. This is a need that I hear day in and day out from my constituents and will go a long way towards getting our working families the support they deserve.” 

“Childcare is one of the most important tools we have to prevent and mitigate the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). I am very grateful to Mayor De Blasio and Senator Brisport for their leadership as we jointly work to provide statutory authority to increase eligibility for childcare. We estimate an additional 15,000 families would qualify for subsidies in NYC alone and thousands more around the state would also benefit. We are also working together to pass legislation that will decouple child care subsidies from parents’ hours of work. Under current law, if a parent eligible for subsidies works part time or fluctuating hours, they can receive a subsidy ONLY for the hours they are at work plus commuting time, which means their children cannot attend full-day/all-week child care, even if that program would best meet the child’s educational and social-emotional needs," said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, Chair of the Children and Families Committee. "Finally, New York State must get the new federal funds to child care providers and families with a speed reflective of their urgent need for support, and with meaningful input from providers and families to make sure the funds are used effectively."

My colleagues and I in the Assembly Majority have always fought to put New York families first. Access to child care has long been an issue for New York’s working families, but the COVID-19 health and economic crisis has illustrated how essential child care is and truly shined a light on the devastating impact a lack of child care has on families and our economy,’ said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “As more parents head back to work, this legislation allows children to safely return to child care and our economy to thrive again. I would also like to thank Assemblymember Hevesi for his hard work and commitment to passing this legislation.”

"I’m proud to play a part in expanding child care options for working families in New York City. So many people who care for children—overwhelmingly women of color—have been forced out of the job market by the childcare demands this pandemic has placed on them,” said State Senator Robert Jackson. “The only way to get New York City back on its feet is to provide accessible and affordable childcare, period. I look forward to continuing our work with partners in city government to make sure these funds reach the working families who need this childcare the most."

“More and more New Yorkers are returning to the office each day, and school is out in just a couple of weeks - the demand for childcare is on a steep rise,” said State Senator Roxanne Persuad. “New York City’s plan to expand care to 15,000 more kids is essential.  I’m proud to co-sponsor two key bills (S.6655 and S. 6706-A) to make this happen for our kids, for parents and the daycare providers that serve our communities.” 

“As a woman from a working class district that was the epicenter of the pandemic, I applaud my colleagues for expanding early childcare,” Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar. “This will relieve a financial burden for so many parents, especially working mothers in my district, and put us on the road to recovery. At a time when government decisions will be the difference between a recovery for all and a recovery for the few, I fully support this initiative to expand early childcare to more families."

“Families should not have to choose between child care and work. Today’s announcement of the expansion of child care access to thousands of working-class families across our city is tremendously impactful as so many disproportionately impacted by the pandemic continue to struggle with economic, healthcare and housing difficulties. Child care providers are foundational to our communities and must benefit from the legislative reform and federal funding necessary to recover in the months ahead,” said Assembly Member Khaleel Anderson.

“I’m pleased to be co-sponsoring the state legislation introduced by my colleague Assemblyman Hevesi that will make it possible for the City to expand free and low-cost child care to more families,” said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz. “As our city returns to normal, we desperately need people coming back to work — and this joint effort by the State and City will provide households with young children with the support and peace of mind they need in order to return to the workplace and help restore our City’s economy to its pre-pandemic health.”

“Expanding child care in New York City will be key to a strong, fair, and just recovery, especially in neighborhoods hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “I support the City’s advocacy to raise the income threshold for subsidized child care, decouple full-day child care from work hours, and distribute federal stimulus funds to support the child care sector. These necessary actions will benefit thousands of children and families for the better.”  

“The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed parents and childcare providers in New York City past their breaking point. It is critical, then, that my colleagues in the State Legislature use this $2 billion in federal funding to stabilize and expand the child-care sector here in New York City and bring relief to thousands of working parents and their kids as workplaces begin to re-open,” said Council Member Farah N. Louis, co-chair of the Women’s Caucus and vice co-chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. “Long term, we must build back a better childcare system that gives all New York families – including working-class Black and Brown communities devastated by Covid-19 – access to affordable and flexible child-care. Approving these two bills is a start. New York City expects to see its fair share of funding.” 

As the city reopens and caregivers return to work, it is imperative that we expand the income threshold for families to qualify for subsidized child care and that full-time child care is provided to people who work 20 hours or more a week,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson. “All New Yorkers regardless of their socio-economic status or zip code should have equal access to child care opportunities, and outdated laws cannot continue to penalize women, families of color, and other caregivers in our city. I implore the New York State Legislature to take immediate action by passing legislation that supports child care equity for the millions of New Yorkers that need it the most.”

“Another lesson learned during the pandemic was the need for additional childcare. Now that we’re moving into our new normal it’s imperative that we partner on the state and federal level to provide additional funding for childcare. Today I stand with Mayor Bill the Blasio and my colleagues in city government to provide additional day care for working parents as we move back into the workforce,” said Council Member Diaz.

"Access to affordable childcare is so important for young and working families. We have been working on this for nearly two decades, understanding full well the impact of childcare burdens on upward mobility.  An equitable recovery must include supporting the backbone of our City and uplifting our youth. I am grateful for the Administration's advocacy to expand eligibility and provide additional support for the communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which will undoubtedly be a huge benefit to our City as a whole, " said Council Member I. Daneek Miller.  

"As more businesses reopen in person, parents throughout New York are desperately seeking affordable, high-quality child care and all too often facing bureaucratic obstacles in obtaining it," said Gregory Brender, Director of Public Policy at the Day Care Council of New York. "The legislation announced today from Mayor de Blasio, Assembly member Hevesi and Senator Brisport  will increase access to high-quality child care by expanding access to subsidies, eliminating burdensome requirements that prevent working families from accessing child care and implementing a cost study so that providers will be funded at the true cost of care.  The time for Albany to act is now!”  

“Access to high-quality affordable early care and education is crucial to New York’s economic recovery from the pandemic, and to the health and well-being of our state’s children,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children. “Yet, based on data from the recent Household Pulse Survey, 24% of working-age women in the New York Metro Area cite caring for children as their primary reason for not working during the pandemic. That’s why the Citizens' Committee For Children and the Campaign for Children urge the State to make child care more accessible to families at a moment when they need it most. The state must pass legislation to allow localities to expand child care income eligibility to serve thousands more additional children, and a second bill to decouple child care subsidies from parents’ hours of work to ensure child care stability for children, families and providers. In addition, we are also calling on the State to release the federal child care funds it has received through several stimulus packages, to ensure the City can begin to expand access to care to families and support providers immediately. Investing in accessible, quality child care is an investment in our children, families, and the City's future. Albany must act now.”  

“2021 has been a momentous year for children, and new investment in child care aims to help. The Governor’s Child Care Availability Task Force released recommendations that create a roadmap for transforming and dramatically expanding child care in New York State; the State received more than $2.3 billion in COVID-relief child care funds; and the 2021-22 State budget took large steps to allow more families to benefit from child care subsidies and decrease parent costs across the state. However, there is more to be done. State leaders must pass common-sense laws this session to ensure federal relief funds benefit families quickly and begin to rebuild the battered child care system. Without delay, the State must give counties flexibility to cover more working families by allowing them to expand income-related eligibility and improve children’s access to child care’s full curriculum and scheduling predictability by delinking parental hours of work from hours in child care. New York must get federal funds out the door and into the hands of child care providers and families with a speed that reflects the urgent need of families and child care providers. No more delays,” said Dede Hill, Director of Policy, Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, facilitator of the Empire State Campaign for Child Care, and a member of the Child Care Availability Task Force. 

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