Early Care and Learning

Watch the Empire State Campaign for Child Care’s budget debrief webinar.

Join us at these Upcoming events for child care:

Early Care and Learning 1

In 2024, New York State must:

Move Closer to Universal Child Care ($1.5 billion)

Advancing universal child care means investing in child care educators and program providers so they can have a thriving income, ensure stability and continuity for learning for ALL children, which in turn will preserve quality of care and learning.

Child care workforce challenges are severe and persistent. The average wage for child care workers in New York State—who are almost entirely women and predominantly people of color—is $35,190, one of the lowest among all professions. The small bonuses New York has provided to much of the workforce in recent years, while helpful, fall far short of the permanent hike in compensation the sector needs to stabilize and expand to meet growing need.

Another challenge: thousands of low-income families are unjustly prevented from accessing child care by immigration status rules, lack of non-traditional hour care, and other access barriers.

New York must enact policies to ensure that all families can access high-quality, culturally-responsive care when they need it. All New York families need and deserve child care. 

Finally, with New York projecting a budget shortfall and economic headwinds, investing in child care must be recognized as critical to righting New York’s economy. There are few investments with a greater public return than child care, estimated at 18% by the Minnesota Federal Reserve. This is because the impacts of insufficient access to high quality, affordable child care are dramatic. Unpaid family caregiving sharply reduces parents’ earnings, which in turn reduces the amount of tax revenue they generate. A 2023 ReadyNation report on infant-toddler child care determined that families with children under 3 years lose an average of $5,520 per working parent annually in lost earnings and in time spent looking for work. Business also loses out due to productivity hits and the costs of turnover – an average of $1,640 per working parent per year. New York cannot afford to continue to underinvest in child care. 

  • Increase compensation and benefits for all members of the child care workforce. 
  • Help ensure ALL New Yorkers can access child care. 

Continue the momentum in full day pre-K ($100 million)

  • Focus on increasing rates for school districts that were early adopters of Universal Pre-K who continue to have programs that have to fund from local tax revenue. Currently, some school districts continue to receive from the state $5,400 per child for full day pre-K, an amount that is inadequate to cover the cost of any quality program. In addition, school districts that contract with community based organizations to administer the pre-K program, do not provide an adequate amount for teachers to be paid a thriving wage, conteming the teachers that work for these CBOs to wages that do not cover the basics. 
  • Ensure equitable distribution of pre-K funding to community based organizations and family child care programs to ensure continuity of learning for children that honors families’ choice. 
    • Potentially increase the minimum percentage of funding that needs to be contracted with community based organizations.
  • Ensure that teachers’ experience in all child care programs, with or without formal certification is considered appropriate for teaching pre-K. 
  • Ensure that preschool special education is adequately funded.

View our other 2024 priority campaigns.


Webinar: Budget Debrief and Legislative Priorities (April 2024) 

Briefing: Child care is essential! How we can make child care work for all New Yorkers (March 2024)

Empire State Campaign for Child Care 2024 Legislative Priorities

See all our latest publications here.

Take Action

See our latest petitions and letter campaigns to contact your elected officials.

You can also look up your State Legislators and their contact information.