New York’s families and child care educators are counting on Albany to prioritize investments in child care in this year’s budget — and that means investing in the child care workforce.
Child care work is one of the lowest paid professions in the United States, despite high qualification requirements and its vital role to the economy overall. Right now, as programs struggle to stay open and retain staff for the families who rely on them, hardworking child care educators – 96 percent women, the majority of whom are women of color – earn less than 97 percent of occupations statewide. The poverty wages we pay the child care workforce lead to high turnover in educators, destabilizing the lives of young children who need continuity to thrive. Many of them have left the professional altogether just to earn a living wage.
Without enough child care educators to meet the needs of New York’s families, any effort to increase eligibility for families will remain only a talking point. That’s why we need a $1 billion investment compensation for the child care workforce to raise the average pay of child care professionals by $12,500 as we build a path to a permanently funded compensation ladder by 2025.
In her Executive Budget, Governor Hochul proposed just $389 million for the child care workforce in the form of stabilization grants. Unfortunately, this is nowhere near what we need if we want to increase child care educator wages to a thriving level, and will only keep this workforce in poverty for yet another year. And the Governor’s proposal will continue to drive the reduction in the availability of child care for families as educators leave the workforce altogether for better paid industries.