Supported Families. Thriving Children. A Stronger New York.

New York’s Capacity Crisis

Time to invest in high-quality infant and toddler care

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.

Listening to Center and Family Child Care Providers

  • There is a major capacity problem for infant care across New York State. Eighty-three percent of family child care providers and 64% of child care centers report that they enroll infants. Seven out of 10 child care centers and half of family child care providers are at maximum capacity for infants.
  • 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.

Statewide and regional data

  • In 2017, there were only an estimated 15 infant/toddler child care slots per 100 children ages 0-5 across New York State.
  • From 2011 to 2017, only the top 20% wealthiest communities saw an increase in 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.
  • 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.
  • Insufficient revenues keep workforce wages low and limit provider quality. Current annual lead teacher salaries average around $30,000 outside of NYC and $43,000 in NYC, the equivalent of $14.50/hour and $20/hour respectively.