NYC Council expected to pass legislative package for universal child care

The City Council is expected to pass a legislative package of five bills on Wednesday for universal child care in the coming years.

The Universal Child Care Act will establish an advisory board tasked with introducing a five-year plan to implement universal programs.

“We would be the first city in the country to do this,” Council Member Julie Menin, who introduced the legislation, told The Post.

“Universal child care means everyone who needs a seat is able to get that seat. That’s not what we have right now,” she said.

More than 1 in 3 parents report difficulty finding child care across the five boroughs, according to 2022 survey data from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

The problem was particularly pronounced among black and Hispanic families, and 60% of parents in the Bronx said they struggle to find child care in the borough.

The proposed advisory board would include reps for the mayor’s office, City Council and Department of Education, the Administration for Children’s Services and the health department.

Also included in the legislative package is a grant pilot program for child care centers at risk of closing, plus more information for families about how to find and pay for child care.

First day, back to school, at the Anderson School, students and their parents at yard entrance this morning on W 76st entrance. School is located at 100 W 77st., mhtn.
The City Council’s Universal Child Care Act will fund struggling child care centers.
Robert Miller

“There are all these child care desserts, so parents can’t find a child care provider near them,” Menin said.

The pilot would be set up by July and run for at least three years. The city is held responsible for tracking the recipients, the amount they received, and the type of program they offer, as well as any recommendations to continue or expand the program.

The initiative comes as the city has delayed millions of dollars in reimbursements to early childhood education programs that contract with the DOE to provide kids ages 5 and under child care.

Council Member Julie Menin acknowledged New York City’s declining school enrollment since the pandemic.
Council Member Julie Menin acknowledged New York City’s declining school enrollment since the pandemic.
Robert Miller

One of those sites, interviewed by The Post last month, told parents and employees a week later it will shutter its doors this winter, citing dire financial straits due to missed payment and enrollment declines.

“We need to reverse that trend,” said Menin. “We can’t go on that path where they keep closing — yet the demand is so high.”

Two of the bills create a child care directory and a subsidy information portal. Another bill provides guidance to property owners on how to qualify for a tax abatement program that makes up to $225,000 available to those who create or expand child care centers.

Menin framed the package as something that “economically makes sense to do.”

Estimates from the Economic Development Corporation found local parents leaving the workforce or “downshifting” their careers in 2021, due to the pandemic and lack of access to childcare, cost the city $2.2 billion annually in tax revenue — roughly 3.7% of that year’s estimated city tax revenues.

“We are losing that revenue,” Menin added. “We’re losing parents — largely women — from the workforce.”

Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan

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