Coalition releases new data on regional child care capacity trends and community income, survey of child care providers, and study on cost of quality care

NEW YORK – The estimated number of infant and toddler child care slots decreased in nearly every region of the state between 2009 and 2018, and many providers report that they are running on a deficit, according to new resources released today by Raising NY, a statewide coalition dedicated to increasing the number of children on track for school readiness.

Research shows that investing in high-quality early childhood programs leads to students being more likely to graduate from high school and college, makes communities safer, improves economic security and therefore child well-being, and stops the school-to-prison pipeline that keeps too many children and young adults from reaching their full potential. Access to affordable, high-quality, safe, and culturally responsive child care supported by a universal, transparent quality rating and improvement system is a critical component.

Yet new data and a survey of providers reveal that across New York many communities are experiencing a capacity crisis. These critical new resources, which can be found at, include:

  • An overview of the child care capacity crisis in New York.
  • The results of a survey of providers highlighting that challenges that limit their ability to provide high-quality child care.
  • Regional fact sheets exploring child care capacity in New York’s 10 economic development regions.
  • An analysis by the Center for American Progress illuminating the real cost of high-quality child care.

Among the coalition’s findings highlighted in these resources:

  • Seven out of 10 child care centers and half of family child care providers are at maximum capacity for infants, according to a survey of providers. Most child care centers and nearly half of all providers have a wait list.
  • Many providers are running on a deficit, and wages and benefits are a problem for a majority of child care centers. Child care providers who enroll at least one child with a subsidy are more likely to have a deficit (30%) than those who do not (14%). Providers feel low wages limit their ability to provide quality care and believe more assistance from the state is needed to be financially stable.
  • From 2011 to 2017, only the top 20% wealthiest communities saw an increase in estimated infant/toddler capacity per 100 children ages 0-5. All other communities lost capacity, including low-income communities, middle-income communities, and even mid-high income communities—reinforcing that access to child care is a statewide problem.
  • The estimated number of infant/toddler child care slots decreased in every region of the state except Long Island, New York City, and the Mid-Hudson from 2009 to 2018.
  • Current child care subsidy rates are insufficient to cover the cost of quality child care in centers and in family-based child care, according to the analysis by the Center for American Progress. The size of the gap between subsidy rates and the true cost of quality varies by region, but exists across the state for infants and toddlers.

“Quality education for children starts with quality care during the formative years,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and chief executive officer of The Business Council of New York State, and a co-chairperson of Raising NY. “Investments into child care providers are critical to set both parents and their children up for long-term success. Raising NY is doing a tremendous job advocating for more resources to ensure a child is given every opportunity possible to be successful as they grow as an individual and as a student.”

“This data from Raising NY provides new details about the severe shortage of high-quality infant and toddler child care in New York and the urgent need to increase compensation for early childhood educators,” said Kate Breslin, president and chief executive officer of the Schuyler Center for Analysis & Advocacy, and a co-chairperson of Raising NY. “While child care challenges facing New York are daunting, this data – particularly the cost study – provides us with a clear framework for creating a high-quality child care system. We embrace this work, together with government and community partners, including the Governor’s Child Care Availability Task Force, to set New York on a clear path to expanding access to quality child care for all New York children.”

“The cost of quality child care in New York State requires too many sacrifices from parents and families,” said Hope Lesane, associate director for early childhood for The Education Trust–New York, which staffs Raising NY. “We must make high-quality child care more accessible and affordable to all families across the state. We have a chance to get it right, with greater investment and attention to our youngest New Yorkers.

“The data in the cost of quality study make clear what working families already know – high-quality child care is out of reach for most New Yorkers,” said Simon Workman, Director, Early Childhood Policy, Center for American Progress. “And while many low-income working families receive support from the Child Care Subsidy Program, the value of this subsidy fails to cover the cost of high-quality child care, especially for infants and toddlers, and contributes to the low wages earned by early childhood educators.”

“The need for quality, affordable care for babies and toddlers is urgent and acute, and longstanding for New York’s families. Quality care for children under 3 is expensive, beyond the reach of most young parents. Even worse, in too many communities, there are no options at all, at any price,” said Betty Holcomb, policy director for the Center for Children’s Initiatives. “These new resources put a punctuation point on that crisis, which stems from the gap between what parents can afford to pay and the cost of quality care. Many new parents face sticker shock at the cost of infant care and frustration about long waiting lists for the few slots for babies and toddlers in their neighborhoods. As an organization that has worked extensively to expand and improve child care options across New York, we believe these resources shine a light on the need for expanded public investment to close that gap, stabilize existing capacity and improve the quality of care. The need for more robust public investment is not only clear and convincing, but so is the research, which shows that investments in the early years more than pay for themselves, producing benefits for children and families, schools, communities and local businesses. In fact, there is simply no better public investment to be made.”

“New York State led the nation enacting Paid Family Leave and is rapidly expanding our Pre-K programs. But New York is still unable to bridge gaps for families with young children by ensuring their access to universal, high quality, affordable child care – especially for infants and toddlers,” said Larry Marx, chief executive officer of The Children’s Agenda. “This study shows that those gaps are growing, leaving hundreds of thousands of working families and our next generation in the breach.”

“As a State Child Care Resource and Referral agency, the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families works closely both with home-based, licensed Family Child Care providers and with families in accessing culturally responsive, quality early care and education,” said Alan Yu, director of development for the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families. “We are committed to honoring and investing in high-quality care in all settings that families choose, and we know the value that these child care providers bring to their communities and the families that they support and serve. New York State has allowed the crisis in funding and access to go on for far too long, ultimately fueling growing child care deserts and threatening the sustainability of these child care business owners, the working New Yorkers who rely on them, and the overall healthy development of our children. We are excited to join Raising NY in an effort to elevate the importance of intentionally and equitably investing in and supporting the healthy development of young New Yorkers and all center- and home-based child care providers who nurture their growth.”

“New York’s long-term success will ultimately be driven by how it cares for its youngest children, particularly those who have been historically denied access to high-quality early childhood experiences,” said Sherry Cleary, executive director of CUNY Professional Development Institute. “These new resources underscore the urgent need to invest in high-quality infant and toddler child care so that all New Yorkers have the support they need to raise healthy and thriving families.”

“From what we know about a young child’s developing brain, early experiences matter,” said Dr. Liz Izakson, executive director of Docs for Tots. “The fact that we cannot provide high-quality affordable child care to infants means that we are missing opportunities to support families and the future of these children.

“The Early Care & Learning Council stands with Raising NY in bringing to light something that our Child Care Resource & Referral agencies struggle to remedy every day: the lack of child care capacity in New York,” said Meredith Chimento, executive director of the Early Care & Learning Council. “While there is variation across counties and the type of child care, overall there are still not enough available and affordable options for families. We will continue to work toward a solution and implore those reading this new data to join us.”

“We are experiencing a crisis in Western NY,” said Rachel P. Bonsignore, director of Lift Off Western New York. “There are tens of thousands of young children in our region in need of high-quality child care that is accessible and affordable. This new data demands our collective concern and our aligned action.”

“There are over 970,000 immigrant parents of young children living in New York State. It is critical that these families have access to culturally and linguistically fluent early child care,” said Kim Sykes, director of education at the New York Immigration Coalition. “Raising NY’s findings highlight the need for greater investment in child care for New York’s young children to put all of our students on the path to lifelong academic and economic success.”

“Our mission at Prevent Child Abuse NY is to strengthen families by increasing supports and decreasing the stressors that lead to abuse,” said Jenn O’Connor, director of policy at Prevent Child Abuse NY. “Access to affordable, high-quality child care is imperative. Parents need to go to work and school and know that their children are learning in a safe environment. The work of Raising NY shows that we are at a crossroads. It is past time for New York State to tackle the child care issue in a comprehensive way and PCANY is optimistic that the state is on track to better support families.”

“Access to high-quality, affordable early childhood care is critical in preparing children for school and putting them on a path to academic success, college, and career,” said Sheena Wright, president and chief executive officer of United Way of New York City. “Stable, full-day child care, which enables parents to work, attend school, or pursue training opportunities, can move an entire family along the path to financial stability which is the cornerstone of self-sufficiency.”

Improving access to high-quality, affordable child care is one of four key advocacy priorities for Raising NY. Learn more about New York’s child care capacity crisis and other critical early childhood issues at

This work is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Pritzker Children’s Initiative and the Early Childhood Partners NYC, the funder’s collaborative in The New York Community Trust.