Quality child care is an essential service that helps form the economic backbone of New York State. Providers can find information on current child care policies, as well as the many types of child care programs available in the state. Quality programs provide a warm, safe, and pleasant environment for children, and offer activities that help them learn and develop. It is important to note that no one type of program is necessarily better than another; parents are the best judge in determining which program will meet their needs and those of their child.
An analysis conducted by the Center for Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University has revealed that policy recommendations are expected to reduce the poverty rate of children under 3 years of age in New York City by 5 to 8 percent. This means that the next mayor must not only restore the child care capacity that New York City lost during the pandemic, but also rebuild a better system by investing in high-quality day care. Such a system should ensure high-quality and affordable care for children, provide better and more equitable jobs for all child care workers, and allow parents and other caregivers to rejoin the paid workforce, increase their working hours, and restart their careers.
Interruptionsin child care can cause parents to miss work or reduce their working hours, resulting in lost wages and negative impacts on their employment prospects and long-term income.
Studies have shown that high-quality child care and early learning programs have a high return on investment for both children and parents. The complexity of the child care system can make it difficult for eligible families to access all forms of public child care and early learning support for which they are eligible. All types of regulated child care programs are eligible to participate in QualityStarsNY at no cost to the programs. This includes infant and toddler care, preschool, after-school and summer care in a wide range of high-quality environments. While some child care workers have union representation, giving them the opportunity to negotiate higher wages and benefits, inequalities persist. At least five city and state agencies are responsible for managing the child care system and overseeing care in centers and homes in Early Learn, subsidized places for child care, Head Start, pre-kindergarten, and after-school and summer daycare.
During the pandemic, low-income people, women, immigrants, and people of color were overrepresented as frontline workers and caregivers who faced most of the challenges, including those who worked disproportionately in family child care programs that remained open to care for the children of essential workers. The quality of child care in Central New York is an important issue that affects families across the region. Quality daycare centers provide a safe environment for children to learn and develop while allowing parents to work or pursue other activities. QualityStarsNY is a program designed to help ensure that all regulated child care programs meet high standards of quality. However, there are still inequalities in wages and benefits among child care workers that need to be addressed.
In addition, there are five city and state agencies responsible for managing the child care system in Central New York. These agencies must work together to ensure that all families have access to quality daycare services.