Poll: New York City residents overwhelmingly support government investment in early childhood programs

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August 9, 2021

New York City’s next mayor must prioritize support for families of infants and toddlers


NEW YORK – As New York City continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, a new poll found that New Yorkers overwhelmingly want the next mayor to address child care needs that would provide economic relief to working parents and help support our youngest New Yorkers stay developmentally on track.

Nine out of 10 residents indicated that child care is a burden for families in New York City, and 86% ranked improving access to free or low-cost child care as a priority for the next mayor, according to the poll conducted by Global Strategy Group and released today by Citizens’ Committee for Children New York, The Education Trust–New York, and the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute. These results are driven by Black and Latinx residents, nearly half of whom indicated that finding child care is a major burden in New York City, compared to 38% of White residents.

The poll findings highlight the tremendous amount of stress and economic instability New York City families have experienced during the course of the pandemic, something that could be relieved if all families, especially those disproportionately impacted by economic hardship during the pandemic, had access to high-quality, affordable child care.

Notably, Black and Latinx parents and those from low-income households have weathered a disproportionate economic impact, with 61% of Black and Latinx parents reporting they have had trouble paying for basic expenses such as food, housing, and/or health care in the last year, compared to 48% of White parents. Among parents from low-income households, 76% of parents said they struggled to pay for basic expenses, compared to just 49% of parents from not low-income households.

The poll also highlights the urgent need for further investment to make high-quality, affordable early childhood programs available to all parents.

Among the key findings:

  • FINDING 1: Many parents, especially Black and Latinx parents and those from low-income households, report child care is often a burden and that finding affordable, high-quality child care is difficult in New York City.

An overwhelming majority of residents (89%) approve of local and state government officials doing more to make sure that infants and toddlers in New York City are healthy and developmentally on track from birth and throughout early childhood.

  • FINDING 2: Child care has also created a number of economic difficulties for parents, including work-related consequences and difficulty paying for basic expenses.

Nearly one in four parents reported that they lost or had to quit their job because they did not have access to child care. Black and Latinx parents were nearly three times more likely to lose their job than White parents (14% of Black parents and 15% of Latinx parents compared to 5% of White parents).

Of parents who indicated they had trouble paying for expenses, an astounding one in two lost housing or were evicted. Of those who lost housing or were evicted, nearly one in three is either currently without housing or living in a shelter.

  • FINDING 3: Residents support a number of critical solutions to keep infants and toddlers healthy and developmentally on-track including access to high-quality child care, investing in early childhood programs, and improving resources that would be helpful to parents.

Among those resources, 81% of parents indicated that access to mental health support is an obstacle. One in three parents indicated their child had been turned away from a center- or home-based program because the provider could not offer enough support for a child with a learning or physical disability.

  • FINDING 4: Parents are largely satisfied with their family-based or center-based child care centers, although Black and Latinx parents and parents from low-income households are much less likely to rank their experience as positive. Residents broadly support further investments in these programs, with 87% supporting increased financial assistance to parents from low-income households to cover tuition and other fees paid for by the child’s parents.

Read the poll memo and additional data here.

“Child care for infants and toddlers in New York City is unaffordable for families across the income spectrum, but especially for households with low incomes,” said Jennifer March, executive director of Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “It is important now more than ever that New York’s leaders prioritize programs and systems that support our youngest children and their parents as they continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. As seen from this poll, New Yorkers want our next mayor to expand access to high-quality, affordable child care for infants and toddlers and investments in universal, full day child care for children under five.”

“No parent should be forced to make the difficult choices that New York City families are faced with every day in order to provide child care for their children,” said Lara Kyriakou, associate director of early childhood education advocacy and policy at The Education Trust–New York. “Even before the pandemic, all too many New York City families did not have equitable access to high-quality, affordable early childhood programs that support infants and toddlers during the critical years of brain development. We can and must do better, and we call on government leaders at the city, state, and federal levels to invest in a child care system to support all New Yorkers.”

“New York families who were already being underserved by our government systems prior to the pandemic have shouldered the greatest economic burden as this crisis continues to persist in our communities,” said Dia Bryant, executive director of The Education Trust–New York. “Black and Latinx parents face greater barriers to accessing high-quality, affordable child care, and as a result are far too often forced to make difficult financial sacrifices to take care of their families. It is critical that the next mayor act with the greatest urgency to create an early childhood system that works for all families. Our city’s future depends on it.”

“The information shared by families throughout New York City confirms that we have quite a bit of work to do,” said Sherry Cleary, executive director of CUNY Professional Development Institute. “Families with young children have a right to depend on a comprehensive, government-supported system that is well-managed, well-funded, and ensures that every child has access to excellence. This requires deep supports to our early childhood workforce. We look forward to working with the city’s new administration to envision and help build a system where every early childhood leader and educator is well-trained and educated, has continuous career development, and is well-compensated. These measures will help create a more equitable New York City and will enable families to thrive.”

The survey had a confidence interval of +/-2.5%. All interviews were conducted via web-based panel, including 55% of interviews conducted via mobile device. Care has been taken to ensure the geographic and demographic divisions are properly represented. Thirty-nine percent of participants have a household income of less than $50,000 per year. “Residents of color” refers to residents who self-identify as Latinx, Black, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander


About Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York

Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC) educates and mobilizes New Yorkers to make the city a better place for children. CCC’s advocacy combines public policy research and data analysis with citizen action. CCC casts light on the issues, educates the public, engages allies and identifies and promotes practical solutions to ensure that every New York City child is healthy, housed, educated and safe. For more information about CCC, visit cccnewyork.org.

About The Education Trust–New York:

The Education Trust–New York works to eliminate the gaps in equity and opportunity that hold back too many students from reaching their full potential, especially those from low-income backgrounds or students of color, in order to enable all students in New York State to achieve at high levels — from early childhood through college. Learn more at EdTrustNY.org.

The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute

The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute (PDI) is a public-private partnership that brings together a range of city agencies, a consortium of private funders, and the nation’s largest urban university to build a comprehensive system of professional development for individuals who work with young children in New York. Learn more at earlychildhoodny.org.

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