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Survey: Lack of Child Care Keeps Migrant Candy Sellers Underground

Of those surveyed, 83% have aspirations to pursue other lines of work and have not been able to due to limitations in childcare.
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A new survey from the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and volunteer-based initiative Algún Día, highlights the obstacles faced by immigrant New Yorkers selling candy and fruit in subways and parks.

Algún Día enlisted Spanish-speaking volunteer social workers to conduct a three-month outreach and survey 75 parents with children selling candy and fruit across all five boroughs. The outreach effort was able to identify gaps in government and immigrant providers’ services for immigrant candy sellers and address community needs, according to a news release.

Of the survey respondents, 75% were from Ecuador, with 34% women under the age of 25. The survey found almost half of respondents (42%) noted one of the biggest obstacles for them is access to childcare. Many parents expressed the need to sacrifice jobs because of the lack of care for their children and the surveyed group were all unaware of child care opportunities such as Promise NYC, underutilized child care centers or pre-K programs.

Of those surveyed, 83% have aspirations to pursue other lines of work and have not been able to due to limitations in childcare. About 64% of respondents said they are living outside of the shelter system and 88% stated they began vending out of need. 60% of respondents indicated fear of incurring fines and police interaction while vending.

"Our team walked the subways, listened to heartfelt stories, and confronted the stark reality of needs unmet and potentials untapped," said Monica Sibri, a senior advisor at Includus Fund and co-founder of Algún Día.

"What we found was not just a call for help but a deep-seated desire among these children and their families to belong, contribute and succeed. In this city of unparalleled resources and opportunities, the Mayor and City Council can help us reshape fears into frontiers of opportunity for every child, every family, and every newcomer who dreams of a better tomorrow by fully funding Promise NYC.” 

NYIC and Algún Día recommend the following policy solutions: invest a baseline $25 million in Promise NYC to provide childcare vouchers for children who are ineligible for other forms of child care vouchers; restore $4 million in the Immigrant Family Communication and Outreach Initiative to help immigrant families with varying levels of literacy and access to digital media get important school-related information in their own language, enroll in school, and connect to services; prioritize access to Summer Rising and after school programs to provide care for children throughout the summer and after the school day ends in order to access full-time work; pass the Intro 47 bill to decriminalize street vending to remove all misdemeanor criminal penalties for general vendors and mobile food vendors.