In New York City, child care costs over $21,000 per year, three times the cost of CUNY tuition for in-state students.
For single parents working full-time at minimum wage, child care would consume two-thirds of their monthly budget, leaving only $850 for rent and food.
The city implemented universal pre-kindergarten for four year olds and is working on similar programs for three year olds, but there currently is no plan for children under three.
Not only is affording child care a problem, so is finding an open space in daycare. Half of all neighborhoods in the city are considered infant care deserts, meaning there are only enough daycare slots for 20 percent of those who need it.
Among the neighborhoods that suffer from the least capacity are Sunnyside and Woodside in Queens and Bushwick in Brooklyn, with ten times as many infants as available spaces.
To address the issue, Comptroller Scott Stringer is promoting his NYC Under 3 plan. On June 5, he met with members of the Day Care Council of New York at the Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens near Borough Hall in Brooklyn.
“We want to give every parent a shot to make it here, and the best way is to make sure parents aren’t choosing between taking care of their child or their toddler or leaving the workforce,” said Stringer. “We want people to stay in the workforce, build their family economically, and also make sure children get the services that they need.”
In total, the plan is estimated to cost $660 million, funded by a payroll tax on businesses making over $2.5 million annually, which Stringer says exempts 95 percent of companies throughout the five boroughs.
"NYC Under 3 would allocate funding and grants for child care start-ups and expansions by dedicating $500 million over five years to increase capacity and add seats,” said Stringer. “We haven’t built a large enough child care infrastructure.”
If passed, the plan estimates a 10 percent increase in maternal employment, who would collectively contribute $540 million to the New York economy.
“Long term, I think they’re trying to push us into taking more infants, which is an infrastructure problem that is really very expensive,” said Joan-Ann Bostic, Chair of Lucille Rose Day Care Center in Rockaway
Michael Morgan, vice president of Clifford Glover Day Care Center, was concerned about support for special needs children.
“Right now, we take care of a lot of kids with disabilities, but we still are paid the same flat rate as a regular child, but that costs more,” he said. “But we still try to deal with it because we don’t want to separate any kids.”
Bostic and Morgan agreed that Stringer’s plan is well-intentioned.
“It sounds good,” Bostic said. “We’ll have to see how it’s implemented.”