Poll findings underscore the need for New York to invest in a high-quality universal child care system that will serve all families equitably

NEW YORK – A new poll of New York State parents of young children found that across all racial groups, parents of young children have encountered challenges accessing child care.

The poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group in partnership with the Raising NY coalition, also found that while parents overall are satisfied with their child care program, their experiences with some areas of the system can vary widely across racial lines.

Among the findings:

  • Parents across all racial groups indicated they have encountered challenges accessing child care. Additionally, Black parents were more likely to say they needed access to care during evenings and weekends and nearly three in four (73%) of Black families reported having to travel more than 10 minutes to reach their child care program.
  • Families from low-income households were more likely to consider cost when choosing a child care provider (39% compared to 33% of parents from not low-income households), and two in five indicated that their child does not attend a child care program because they are not able to afford it.
  • Parents with children in child care are largely satisfied with their program across a variety of metrics. But Asian and Black families are much more likely to say they have family needs that are not provided by their current program.
  • Across all racial groups, parents said that issues with child care have affected their ability to attend work, school, or other commitments.
  • There is broad support for investments to ensure that all children have access to a high-quality child care program, including minimizing costs for parents and ensuring that early educators earn a family-sustaining wage.
  • Nearly two thirds of parents (63%) had heard nothing or little about the Empire State Child Tax credit. Parents reported that if they were to receive a child tax credit, they would use it for basic necessities including child care, housing, and utilities. This underscores the critical need for New York to expand access to families with children under age 4.

Access to high-quality child care is crucial to getting more New Yorkers back to work as the state continues its economic recovery amid the ongoing pandemic and persistent inflation.

The poll findings underscore the urgent need for New York to invest in its child care infrastructure, including a universal system that is high-quality, accessible, and affordable for all New Yorkers.

The Raising NY coalition calls on state leaders to enact the following policies: • Lower the cost of child care for families by increasing and expanding eligibility for subsidies.

  • Adapt a culturally responsive quality rating system for all child care programs.
  • Increase access to and capacity of high-quality child care programs that offer non-traditional hours of care.
  • Increase provider wages so that all early childhood care professionals can earn a sustainable and competitive salary.
  • Expand coverage of the Empire State Child Credit to children under 4.
  • Expand access to and coverage of Home Visiting programs and Early Intervention services.
  • Invest in a cradle-to-career state longitudinal data system.

“Challenges accessing child care affect your mental and physical health,” said Mansie Meikle, a New York City parent who has struggled to access child care for her children. “Not being able to provide for your kids affects your mental health. Having to choose between toilet paper and food affects your mental health. There is peace of mind knowing your children are cared for while you are working or pursuing an education. I don’t have to worry about what we’re going to do next week. Now that I know my children are cared for, I can go to work and pursue my dream of helping others.”

“New Yorkers overwhelmingly support public investments to ensure that all families have access to high-quality child care,” said Dia Bryant, executive director of The Education Trust–New York. “Now, it is time for our state leaders to listen to the voices, concerns, and needs of parents of young children and act swiftly in the upcoming legislative session to support policies that will make the burden of child care lighter for all New Yorkers. There is support. Now it is time for us to work together on designing a comprehensive system of supports that will improve the lives of infants, toddlers, and their families.”

“Raising NY’s poll findings emphasize that the child care crisis is far from over, and that New York’s parents continue to struggle to get child care while they work,” said Kate Breslin, president & CEO, Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy. “Families have stated the problem loud and clear: child care is scarce, unaffordable, and inaccessible. New York State must respond by implementing broad policy solutions that are equitable, inclusive, and effective. Raising NY’s recommendations highlight seven key policies that will go a long way toward supporting the state’s families, children, and economy.”

“As early care educators working in a variety of residential settings throughout New York City, we are regularly approached by families who live in the communities we serve,” said Shanita Bowen, director of operations for ECE on the Move. “Most families have different needs to the types of quality care they desire. The Raising NY parent poll demonstrates the variety of care responsiveness that is essential. This can only be obtained when our early childhood system can serve families equitable access to high-quality child care programs across all modalities.”

“These poll findings highlight why programs like QUALITYstarsNY are so important; they prioritize parents by ensuring that every program and provider has the support they need to deliver the highest quality learning environment for all children and families, closing disparities where they exist,” said Dona Anderson, executive director of the NY Early Childhood Professional Development Institute and CUNY Office of Early Childhood Initiatives. “QUALITYstarsNY and the NY Early Childhood Professional Development Institute are committed to supporting the expansion of child care opportunities across New York State as part of the state’s desert grant funding to recruit and retain providers and to open innovative programs across New York State.”

The poll had a confidence interval of +/-4.6%. All interviews were conducted via web-based panel. Care has been taken to ensure the geographic and demographic divisions of parents of young children in New York State are properly represented. Read the full poll results at RaisingNY.org.