Electeds rally for universal childcare bills package


Elected officials rallied in front of New York City Hall today in support of the Universal Childcare Act, a package of bills expected to pass by the City Council. The act includes bills that establish a childcare advisory board, a childcare grant pilot program, an electronic childcare directory, a childcare subsidy information portal and facility requirement guidance for property owners and tax abatement information. 

“Every child in the city deserves access to affordable childcare, and the Universal Childcare Act is going to create that,” said Council Member Julie Menin, who created the package of bills and hosted the rally. “And it’s going to create that regardless of income restrictions, regardless of geographical limitations, regardless of immigration or employment status. That is the only way to create a universal childcare program.”

Access to childcare long before COVID-19 had already been a pressing issue, with high costs making it challenging for families. According to a study by Columbia University, 32% of households had difficulty affording childcare and 36% having difficulty finding childcare when needed. Childcare also disproportionately affects Black, Latino and Asian households as fewer white families report this as a problem. 

Among those at the rally were Council Members Sandra Ung, Amanda Faris, Shaun Abreu, Shekar Krishnan, Kevin Riley, Chris Marte, Althea Stevens, Alexa Aviles, Sandy Nurse, as well as Speaker Adrienne Adams, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and others.

“Today is a great day for universal childcare,” said Stevens. “Let’s be clear, this is not a new issue. We’ve been yelling about this for a number of years on how we have to make sure that every child in this city has access to good and quality childcare. Me being a teen mom, this was something that was instrumental for me. I had to decide whether I was going to work and go to school or put my child in daycare because sometimes it was more than what my rent cost…this is not a woman issue this is a family issue.”

Mayor Eric Adams earlier this year unveiled a plan to expand childcare to 41,000 families and has invested in universal pre-kindergarten programs. Prior to the Adams administration, former Mayor Bill deBlasio and his wife Chirlane McCray championed universal pre-kindergarten programs and grew enrollment throughout his tenure.

The new legislative package is intended to go beyond and ensure all New Yorkers have access to affordable childcare by establishing a childcare advisory board (Intro. 486) that will make recommendations on how to be more affordable and move forward the five year implementation plan. The act will also establish a grant pilot program (Intro. 488) that will award grants to businesses at significant risk of closure or displacement. 

Intro. 485 will create a website that lists every childcare provider in the city and is expected to be available in 11 different languages, alongside Intro. 487, which will provide information on childcare subsidies. The last bill of the act will provide property guidance for business owners to increase the number of eligible childcare facilities. 

“Let New York continue to be the model for this nation of what leadership and inclusivity looks like, we are unapologetic about that,” said Adams. “So from the moment that this historic women majority council took office, childcare has been a top priority to us. As the first speaker who is both a mother and a grandmother, I’m proud to lead a legislative body of young parents, parents to be, mothers, and some who may not even want children but realize how important this issue is. We have an opportunity to advance and understand the importance of affordable childcare to advance economic equity”

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