March 28, 2023
By: Bijan Kimiagar
New York City offers subsidized child care for thousands of eligible families, including for infants and toddlers, and seats in 3-K and Universal Pre-Kindergarten. Over the past year, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York has partnered with more than two dozen child and family serving organizations across the city to reach parents and caregivers of young children to develop solutions that fit their family’s needs for early care and education (ECE) programs.
ECE program providers and other child and family service providers put us in touch with over 160 parents of young children who we spoke with as part of listening sessions with parents. These conversations highlighted several key themes that we investigated further as part of a citywide survey of parents. In December of 2022, we launched a multi-lingual survey and received completed surveys from around 1,000 parents who shared insights on the barriers to accessing early care and education alongside their child care needs and experiences.
We have been sharing back what we have learned with project partners and parents who participated, and also sharing actionable solutions with New York City agencies, City Council and philanthropic organizations as partners in ensuring NYC families have access to programs that support their children’s healthy development and their family’s economic security.
of parents surveyed were not aware of publicly subsidized child care programs, excluding preschool
of parents surveyed need child care regularly during evenings, overnight, or on weekends
of parents surveyed had to mitigate the cost of child care, most often by reducing other household expenses
Although this specific project has been underway over the last year, our advocacy to create a more robust, high-quality, accessible, public ECE system in New York City has been ongoing over several years. This advocacy has been part and parcel of our partnerships with other organizations in the Campaign for Children, including several who testified alongside CCC at City Council’s Committee on Education.
Ensuring NYC families have access to public ECE programs is critical because these program have the potential to connect families to other supports they may need. For example, in our survey we asked parents about the most important supports they wish they had more of. Almost 20% of parents surveyed selected “Mental health support for myself and children,” and 15% selected “More information to support my child’s learning and development”. Many ECE program providers are part of larger child and family service providers that might connect families with social workers to access behavioral health supports, or support families who may have questions about their children’s development and need information about New York’s Early Intervention program.
ECE programs are essential for parental workforce stability and connecting to programs like Early Intervention, which offers evaluation of children’s developmental needs and services to support them. Similar to NYC’s public ECE system, New York State’s Early Intervention program and others are in need of financial investment to ensure services are truly accessible to all families. CCC is currently advocating to increase investments in these critical programs for families with young children, and you can advocate alongside us, too. Take action now by writing to your representative about this issue, and check back with us in the future for other opportunities to get involved.
This post was written by Bijan Kimiagar with input from Laura Jankstrom. Many project partners and several members of CCC’s team lead components of and contributed to this project, most notably Marija Drobnjak, Cristina Onea, Rimsha Kahn, Rebecca Charles, and Jennifer March. Photo by Kamaji Ogino via Pexels.com.