By Forum Staff
City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Friday introduced what he has characterized as a “sweeping” new plan that would: slash child care expenses for up to 70,000 families in the five boroughs; extend childcare assistance to families making up to $100,000 a year; and more than triple the number of children in City-backed care, benefiting an estimated 84,000 children, including 34,000 children who are not currently in paid care.
Stringer said the “landmark” proposal, “NYC Under 3,” would revolutionize an unequal system that, according to his office, disproportionately bars low-income families from the long-term economic benefits of care.
Stringer said on Friday that his analysis found child care is out of reach for many NYC families in terms of both cost and access:
• 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, Stringer noted.
• There is currently only capacity for 6 percent of infants in licensed child care centers across the five boroughs. Even counting home-based care—only 22 percent of infants can currently be accommodated in a licensed facility.
• Many communities have become “child care deserts,” according to the comptroller, with room for only a small percentage of neighborhood children. Child care centers are concentrated in more affluent sections of the city.
• In the 10 communities with the most limited capacity, there are more than ten times as many infants as licensed child care spaces.
• Stringer’s analysis pointed out that child care providers are an “overwhelmingly” women-led, low-wage workforce. In the five boroughs, 93 percent of child care workers are women, and one in four live in poverty.
Under Stringer’s proposal, families’ contributions toward the cost of care would be based on a sliding scale, ranging from zero percent for lower income families to 8 percent of family income for families up to 200 percent of poverty, and topping out at 12 percent for families up to 400 percent of poverty. When fully phased in, NYC Under 3 would double income eligibility for child care assistance from 200 percent of poverty to 400 percent of poverty ($103,000 for a family of four).
And, with NYC Under 3, city families would see their out-of-pocket expenses for childcare dramatically decrease, Stringer said. A family of four with one child under 3 and income at about 200 percent of poverty, or just more than $50,000 annually, would pay a maximum of around $4,000 a year for child care, less than half of what that same family would pay today.
According to Stringer’s office, when fully implemented, NYC Under 3’s total annual cost is estimated to be roughly $660 million. To help pay for the program, State elected officials plan to introduce legislation calling for a “modest” child care payroll tax on private employers in the five boroughs with payrolls totaling $2.5 million or more, which would exempt roughly 95 percent of all businesses.
Courtesy of Comptroller Stringer’s Office
By Forum Staff