New York’s child care infrastructure is in crisis: many parents have no access to affordable or quality care and many child care providers earn below the minimum wage. Decades of treating and funding child care as a private service rather than vital public infrastructure has left the system on the verge of collapse. Although some piecemeal approaches and temporary solutions have kept New York’s child care system on life support, many child care centers have already been forced to close, and parents are struggling to access the child care they need. Today, where child care is still available, it is largely due to a dramatically underpaid workforce overwhelmingly made up of women—especially Black women and women of color—who are paid wages that leave the majority in or near poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse, making plain the many weaknesses of our child care system.
With the intent to confront this serious issue, Senator Jabari Brisport and members of AQE spent ten weeks from September through December of 2021 touring New York to hear directly from child care providers and parents. This report details what we encountered through that extensive process, the many nuanced details of this crisis we discovered, and what it will take to address them.