The New York City Council is set to introduce a slate of bills Thursday that aim to create a plan for broad access to more affordable childcare for all New York City parents within a five-year span.
Council member Julie Menin, who represents the Upper East Side, is sponsoring bills that would, among other measures, create a Childcare Advisory Board to oversee the planning and implementation of universal childcare, with the goal of making it easier to access for New York City families, regardless of their income. The board would be made up of appointees from the mayor’s office and the Council, as well as officials from the education department, the health department and the city’s Administration for Children’s Services.
“Women are literally being pushed out of the workforce because they can’t afford childcare,” Menin told Gothamist. “The number of parents that I’ve talked to who have left the workforce, not by choice, but because they felt they had to take care of their children is unacceptable.”
Even with universal pre-K, childcare can be one of the biggest expenses for city families, at more than $21,000 a year. And childcare centers are concentrated in wealthier neighborhoods, leaving parents in large swaths of the city with few options, according to a 2019 report from former City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.
Addressing the issue became a main priority for Gov. Kathy Hochul and state legislators this year, and New York City was recently allocated $4 billion over a four-year period in the state budget to put towards childcare.
Menin argued the bills would create a structure to use that money expeditiously and scale up childcare throughout the city’s childcare deserts. Other bills in the package slated for introduction at Thursday’s Council meeting aim to create a registry of childcare providers, and to make it easier for property owners to open new childcare centers, Menin said.
Mayor Eric Adams, who campaigned in part on improving childcare access, didn’t immediately return a request for comment on the bills.