Our Plan for Universal Child Care

As your City Council Member, I will fight for a child care system that gives families a chance to thrive, and that values child care workers with dignity, good pay, and benefits: 

  • Provide immediate support to stabilize child care providers through the pandemic, and ensure they are able to re-open for families as the broader economy does.

  • Fight for government policies and bureaucracy to work better for families and providers.

  • Once our child care sector is stabilized, work with city, state, and federal colleagues to achieve universal child care for New York City.

 

Read more below...​

The Issues:

We cannot have true economic prosperity in New York City without affordable child care for all working families. Child care gives kids a foundation for learning, health, and well-being. It gives parents a chance for economic stability, and our businesses the ability to hire and retain great employees. Yet for the  vast majority of families in District 11, and across our city, affordable, accessible, high-quality child care is simply out of reach. Our current federal, state, and city patchwork of child care supports is failing our children, our families, and our economy.
 

Personally, I have struggled to find affordable child care for my three children and I am deeply aware of the staggering cost of care, especially for the youngest children. The cost of center based care for my twins in 2015 plus the cost of my student loan was more than my salary as a social worker. Citywide, the annual cost of center-based child care for infants and toddlers is $18,746— significantly more than in-state tuition for a four-year public college. Though home-based care is less, at $10,296 a year, it is still out of reach for most families. Fewer than 3% of District 11 families with young children can afford center-based care, and only 9.4% can afford home-based care, if they can even find it. This crisis is even worse for single parents— especially mothers—and families of color, for whom paying for child care on top of rent, food, and other necessities is literally impossible. With parents unable to work, we face long term implications for our recovery from the pandemic. 


This is also a crisis for child care owners and caregivers, who are overwhelmingly women of color, and immigrants. One in four child care employees live in poverty themselves. Family child care providers provide critical services to working families, and our economic recovery depends on them. Yet these small business owners and employees are at risk of losing their livelihoods, while families have their lives further disrupted. In addition to mandatory closures for some providers during the pandemic, those who were able to stay open had to limit enrollment. The steps needed to keep staff and families safe, serving fewer children, has resulted in financial instability, exacerbated by families that pulled children out due to health or loss of work. In a recent survey, 40% of the family child care providers who participated said they will close within three months if enrollment does not grow, and they don’t receive additional public support. 

 

Our Solutions:

To build a better Bronx, we must have affordable, accessible, high-quality child care for all. Universal child care, including care for infants and toddlers, must be at the heart of an equitable recovery for The Bronx. 

 

As your City Council Member, I will fight for a child care system that gives families a chance to thrive, and that values child care workers with dignity, good pay, and benefits.

 

New York City has already proven that making Pre-K and 3-K accessible, and moving towards pay parity for educators in public and private settings can and does work for children, families, and providers. While we must secure and strengthen these programs, it’s time for all New York City’s youngest children to have safe places to build a strong foundation, and for their families to have safe, excellent care they can afford and depend on.

 

Specifically, I will fight for both a bold plan for universal child care as well as immediate relief for home and center-based providers who are facing imminent collapse due to the pandemic. 

Provide immediate support to stabilize child care providers through the pandemic, and ensure they are able to re-open for families as the broader economy does:

  • Direct hazard pay to providers to keep programs open, allowing them to make COVID-19 related adjustments to spaces and services, and recognizing the extra risk that caregivers have been providing.

  • Create flexible, direct (NOT reimbursable) grants for home and center based providers through an easy to navigate and linguistically accessible process. 

  • Ensure family and center-based child care providers receive targeted outreach for all small business recovery efforts and support.

  • Oversight: Immediately address freezes in access to Administration for Children's Services (ACS) and Human Resources Administration (HRA) subsidies and vouchers for income eligible working families, and enrollment in Department of Education (DOE) programs, so that working families can rapidly re-enroll their children and funds can flow to their child care programs of choice.

 

Fight for government policies and bureaucracy to work better for families and providers:

  • Make the process of accessing and providing subsidized care more streamlined and efficient, so that families and providers do not have to navigate a complex maze of public agencies that aren’t talking to each other. 

  • Create an inter-agency task force among all public entities involved in child care to remove barriers to access, and ensure coordination and cooperation. A key role of this task force will be to recommend trauma informed practices and cultural sensitivity for frontline agency representatives who interact with providers and families. 

  • Call on the DOE to ensure that all providers are getting the same level of information and resources regardless of whether they choose to be part of a city-funded provider network.

  • Advocate for New York State to a) increase subsidies to reflect the true cost of care, instead of pushing the funding gap onto families and providers, and b) pay child care subsidies based on enrollment—not attendance—to help account for rapidly changing situations for families and health concerns. 

 

Once our child care sector is stabilized, I will work with city, state, and federal colleagues to achieve universal child care for New York City:

  • Expand universal child care so that high-quality infant and toddler care is affordable and accessible for all New York City families.

  • Ensure that both home and center-based care providers have full consideration and a voice in these plans. 

  • Provide fair compensation and robust supports for caregivers. 

Abigail Martin for City Council

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