A new report released by NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on Friday revealed that New York City has a severe shortage of early child care centers for infants and toddlers across the five boroughs. In Brooklyn, the situation is worst in Bushwick, where there are more than ten times as many infants as licensed child care spaces.
The report also showed the staggering expenses New York City parents are facing if they need early child care for their little ones. A spot in a child care center for an infant costs roughly $21,000, over three times as much as in-state tuition at The City University of New York, or 125 percent of median rent citywide. Yet, only one in seven children in families who are income-eligible for financial assistance now is currently in subsidized care.
And space is limited: There is currently only capacity for 6 percent of NYC infants in licensed child care centers across the five boroughs.
“When families are unable to access affordable childcare, parents, guardians, children and whole communities suffer, as do businesses,” said Stringer. “Moreover, as children in low-income families are most affected by exorbitant costs and dismal capacity in childcare centers citywide, the social costs accrue to their families and communities over time, perpetuating a cycle of inequality.”
Many less affluent neighborhoods have become “child care deserts,” Stringer said in his report, with room for only a small percentage of neighborhood children. One of these “desserts” is Bushwick, where only five percent can be accommodated.
With the release of his report, Stringer unveiled the “NYC Under 3” plan which aims to slash child care expenses, extend child care assistance and increase the number of children in city-backed care.
According to the comptroller’s estimates, NYC Under 3 would help more than 70,000 families afford child care by offering free care to the poorest families and greatly cut costs on a sliding scale for those making up to $103,000 a year. After a five-year implementation phase, the program would benefit about 84,000 kids at an annual cost of $660 million, funded through a payroll tax which would exempt small businesses.
Corresponding legislation will be introduced by Brooklyn Assemblymember Latrice Walker, and New York State Senators Jessica Ramos and Brad Hoylman, officials said on Friday.
“The NYC Under 3 program provides families with high-quality, affordable childcare that will alleviate the stresses that are caused by the rising costs of child care providers,” said Walker. “Research has found every dollar invested in high-quality early education saves taxpayers as much as $8 long-term and this early childhood education program gives hardworking everyday New Yorkers a chance to breathe again.”
To see the complete report, go here.