ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- There’s an effort underway to provide child care subsidies and a survey shows most New Yorkers are in favor of the measure. Subsidies would be available to families on a sliding scale, a way to ensure child care fairness.

A recent report from Robin Hood and Columbia University said child care subsidies could help get 80,000 New Yorkers out of poverty. Robin Hood also conducted a poll that found 62% of New Yorkers support making subsidies for child care more widely available.

“Too many New Yorkers struggle to find affordable, quality child care, and the pandemic has only made this crisis worse,” said Robin Hood CEO, Richard R. Buery, Jr. “New Yorkers of all backgrounds overwhelmingly support expanding the state’s investment in child care because they understand parents can’t work, children can’t learn, and child care workers can’t survive unless something changes.”

Legislation to make child care subsidies a reality was introduced by downstate Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblymember Sarah Clark from Rochester in December. The Early Learning Child Care Act would provide a minimum salary of $45,000 annually for child care workers, in addition to subsidies.

The legislation would make child care free for families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty line. The income eligibility would be capped at $106,000 for a family of four to receive free child care. Families would be eligible for a 7% subsidy based on earnings, capping income eligibility at $265,000 for a family of four.

Additional survey findings

  • 59% support free child care subsidies for families who make less than four times the Federal Poverty Level
  • 59% support capping child care expenses at 7% of income for families who make less than $250,000
  • 62% support increasing the minimum pay for child care workers to at least $45,000 per year
  • Democrats (72%), Republicans (51%), and Independents (52%) support making more families eligible for subsidized child care through the state budget

The survey also found that many New Yorkers feel finding affordable, quality child care is difficult for many. Below is the percentage of survey participants who said specific groups had difficulty.

  • 65% people with lower incomes
  • 65% single parents or caregivers
  • 59% working-class New Yorkers
  • 58% immigrant employees
  • 56% service employees
  • 53% hospitality employees
  • 52% middle-class New Yorkers

Child care subsidies would be directed towards families with very young children (up to age three) in the beginning, then expanding to include four and five-year-olds. Infant child care costs New Yorkers an average of $15,000 a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

“The poll findings underscore that New Yorkers want a child care system that is high-quality and accessible to historically underserved families,” said The Education Trust-New York Executive Director, Dia Bryant. “As New York seeks to imagine and create a child care system that is stronger and more equitable, it is crucial that increased access and capacity go hand in hand with efforts to ensure high-quality care.”

Childcare has also been a focus of Gov. Kathy Hochul. She announced a $70 million grant at the end of January, made available by the American Rescue Plan Act, that will give newly licensed, registered, or permitted child care programs in child care deserts funding to cover start-up or personnel costs like recruiting, and retraining.