Child Care is a Real Solution to Faster Shelter Exits, Not Stay Limits


May 17, 2024

We can help migrant/asylum-seeking families exit shelter more quickly and safely without shelter stay limits by rejecting funding cuts to a popular and economically supportive program: PromiseNYC

CCC has long advocated for housing-first solutions, especially in response to sharply rising homeless shelter numbers since 2022. Policies and investments that help people access housing result in positive health and economic outcomes for both the city and families.  Data shows that 9 out of 10 families that exit shelter with rental subsidies (CityFHEPS) do not return to shelter within that first year.  By paying no more than 30% of their annual income on rent, families are better able to afford necessities and other expenses that stabilize their lives and the lives of their children.  In fact, all programs that support economic security in the face of affordability issues will uplift families and communities in shelter (and out of it). CCC is a staunch proponent of benefits that alleviate affordability issues, including child care, a benefit that we believe directly supports shelter exits. Access to affordable child care not only lifts an enormous financial burden for families, but also allows parents to reenter the workforce, maintain steady work, and build on economic stability for their children. Through this lens, as we navigate solutions to the migrant crisis that will help our newly arrived neighbors, it becomes clear that child care access is a huge opportunity to support these families. What’s even more clear is that solutions to help increase economic stability for migrant families are both more effective and more humane than kicking families out of shelter.

Currently, migrant/asylum-seeking families are being forced out of shelter after a 60-day threshold. In fall of 2023, the Adams Administration announced a rule to go into effect in January 2024 that migrant families were required to exit shelter after 60 days, while individuals were given only 30 days. These are referred to as the “30-Day Rule” and the “60-Day Rule”. CCC, other advocacy organizations, and many elected leaders vehemently opposed this policy at its inception and continue to fight against it today. As part of these efforts, and efforts to protect New York’s Right to Shelter, CCC joined ranks with other organizations through a coalition called NY SANE. Read more about the coalition here and check out the website here. CCC has also submitted testimony that includes recommendations urging the elimination of these rules.

A huge reality for families is that trying to exit shelter is directly connected to economic stability; and when a family has children, economic stability is directly tied to child care access.

Earlier this month NYC Comptroller Brad Lander published findings from an investigation his office launched in January on the shelter stay rules. The investigation reviewed current protocols and processes, the effects of those policies, and their financial impact on the City. According to the Comptroller’s report, the Mayor wrote him a letter in February stating that, “Shelter time limits, paired with intensive case management, are designed to help more households achieve self-sufficiency, find stable housing arrangements, and exit from the shelter system.” Yet, data from the investigation proves the opposite: Far from offering a route to stability, relocations forced by the 60-Day Rule disrupt families’ pathways to work authorization, legal status, employment, benefits, and stable public education. Read the report summary here.

In response, the Comptroller’s report recommends elimination of the shelter stay rules and investments in programs that support migrant families reaching stability. But a huge reality for families is that trying to exit shelter, as mentioned at the top, is directly connected to economic stability; and when a family has children, economic stability is directly tied to child care access.

During a rally to reject Executive Budget cuts to the Department of Education on the steps of City Hall on May 10, Liza Schwartzwald, Director of Economic Justice and Family Empowerment at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), explained that while working with Comptroller Brad Lander to unveil findings from the aforementioned report, it became even more clear to NYIC and the Comptroller’s Office that child care was a huge concern and need for migrant mothers. She stated that in hearing directly from mothers, many of them expressed a deep desire to find and secure full-time work opportunities, but struggled because child care options were not available, and there was no one to watch their young children if they went to work. You can hear a little bit about child care’s connection to shelter exits for migrant families from NYIC here. This is a sentiment echoed by child care advocates, specifically around a critical NYC program called PromiseNYC.

PromiseNYC launched in 2022 and provides access to child care services for undocumented children and their families, which extends to asylum seeking families and migrant families, who do not qualify for federal or other aid. This program was very successful in supporting families through 2023, and stories of its impact illustrate how it helps create financial stability. A City Limits article published in June last year stated “Promise NYC has been especially transformative for single parents who have found jobs as a result of the program, giving them more freedom to study or pursue entrepreneurship.”  In December, a Gothamist article cities CCC’s data on child care unaffordability, connecting this issue to the migrant crisis. The article states, “Lack of affordable childcare can derail a family’s opportunity for economic mobility, anti-poverty groups have said. That’s particularly concerning for the 65,000 homeless migrants in shelters. Migrants say that without anyone to watch over their kids, it’s much harder to remain employed and save enough to afford rent.” The reality is that affordable, accessible care impacts the ability to maintain stable housing and economic security, a concept which is true for all families, including those seeking asylum. CCC has written about this many times and pushes for policies and investments that recognize this reality.

In our efforts to advocate for stronger supports for migrant families, our testimony from a Preliminary City Budget Hearing in December focused specifically on migrant families offered recommendations for investments that would help expedite migrant shelter exits wholistically and uplift families economically—this included baseline funding for PromiseNYC. Since then, our advocacy around the devastating budget cuts to child care programming has included calls for restoration of funds to this critical program. Currently, the program is not funded in the FY25 Executive Budget, though the City Council’s Budget Response calls for a $25 million investment. Our current Take Action campaign on early childhood education and youth services calls for Mayor Adams to reverse these programmatic cuts and more, urging a $25 million investment in PromiseNYC for FY25.

Please stand with us to support true stability for migrant/asylum-seeking families that would better position them to exit shelter successfully. Take Action with us to protect critical child care and youth service investments now!

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