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NYC’s Child Care Affordability Crisis: The Unaffordable Cost of Care Burdens Families and Impedes Pandemic Economic Recovery in New York City


December 3, 2020

NYC’s Child Care Affordability Crisis: The Unaffordable Cost of Care Burdens Families and Impedes Pandemic Recovery in New York City

High quality early care for infants and toddlers is essential to children’s healthy development and plays a fundamental role in supporting the economic stability and mobility of working parents and caregivers. Access to this essential service, however, is limited by its cost.

To better inform needed actions, this brief examines two economic dimensions of access to child care—child care cost burden and affordability—and findings on how these dimensions vary geographically across the city by boroughs and community districts, and household compositions—single parent or married couple-headed families with at least one child under five years of age. Together these findings make clear how child care is out of reach for far too many families.

Among the key findings in the report:

  • An estimated 93% of families with young children cannot afford center-based care for their infants and toddlers, and 80% cannot afford somewhat less expensive home-based care,
  • The annual cost of center-based child care for infants and toddlers consumes about 31% of median household income for all families with young children. The cost burden is as high as 65% in communities where median incomes are lower.
  • The annual cost of home-based care, while lower, still consumes 17% of median household income for all families with young children. The cost burden is as high as 36% in communities where median incomes are lower.
  • For families with young children headed by single parents, who have a lower median income compared to married couples, the annual cost burden is 54% for center-based and 30% for home-based care.
  • Only 1% of single parent families citywide can afford center-based care, and only 5% can afford home-based care when using a federally recommended affordability threshold of 7% of household income.
  • In several Bronx communities, the cost of center-based care consumes more than half of family median income: University Heights (65%), Morrisania/East Tremont (65%), Concourse/Highbridge (62%), Bedford Park (60%).

The report also calls attention to key actions federal, state, and local policymakers must advance to create a robust and affordable child care infrastructure and prevent even greater threats to New York City’s economic recovery and the well-being of children and families.

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