ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — With an average cost of more than $15,000 for infant child care a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute, child care in New York is expensive and unaffordable for many families. But, there is a proposal to invest in childcare and it could help lift 80,000 New Yorkers out of poverty, based on an analysis from Columbia University and Robin Hood.

Downstate Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblymember Sarah Clark from Rochester proposed the Early Learning Child Care Act in December. The act would make more money available for child care costs and provide subsidies to families on a sliding scale depending on their income. Families with an income four times below the federal poverty rate would pay nothing for childcare.

Robin Hood and Columbia University said not only will this lift more than 80,000 residents out of poverty, but it will also allow 76,000 parents with children under three years old to go back to work and would give more than one million additional income.

“Even before the pandemic, our state faced a child care crisis, and COVID-19 exposed a critical truth: child care is foundational to New York’s recovery,” said Robin Hood CEO Richard R. Buery, Jr. “Without access to affordable and high-quality child care, parents have struggled to get back to work.”

New Yorkers spend the fifth-highest percentage of their income on childcare (21.3%), according to Neighboring Massachusetts spends the second-highest percentage (24.4%), and Vermont spends the seventh-highest (20.3%).

States that spend the highest percentage of their income on childcare

  1. District of Columbia 26.3%
  2. Massachusetts 24.4%
  3. Indiana 21.9%
  4. Minnesota 21.6%
  5. New York 21.3%

If passed the act would also set a minimum wage for child care workers in the state. “At the same time, those we trust to watch over our children are stuck earning near-poverty wages,” said Buery. “Budgets are about priorities, and there are no higher priorities than ensuring our children have the best possible start to their lives and getting families back on their feet post-pandemic.”

Child care workers in New York are paid an average of $15.14/hour and $31,500/year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national mean hourly wage for child care workers is $12.88, the mean yearly wage is $26,790. The proposal would also make sure child care workers, at least in New York, were paid $45,000 annually.

“This analysis shows that investing in child care would jumpstart our economic recovery and lift tens of thousands of our neighbors out of poverty,” said Buery. “In other words, it’s an investment in our future.”