The legislative package, passed by the Council in October, makes child care services more accessible in New York City

City Hall, NY – Speaker Adrienne E. Adams, along with sponsors of the New York City Council’s child care legislative package – Council Members Jennifer Gutiérrez, Crystal Hudson, and Julie Menin – celebrated the bills being signed into law today. 

“As the first women-majority Council in New York City history, we fully understand that child care remains one of the biggest challenges facing working women and families,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “The Council has always prioritized advancing solutions to support our communities, including the expansion of affordable, high-quality, and accessible child care on a universal basis. Now that this groundbreaking legislative package has been signed into law, our city will deliver the help and care that families need while boosting our economy. I thank the bill sponsors for their leadership and all my colleagues who support our efforts to move towards accessible child care for all New Yorkers.” 

The legislative package addresses systemic issues with child care, establishing a provider directory, a pilot grant program, and planning processes to advance access across the City. Child care is essential for families to ensure their children receive quality care and working parents can succeed in the workforce. Child care is one of the biggest challenges for working women, who experienced some of the greatest job losses from COVID. Nationally, there are approximately 225,000 more men in the labor force than before the pandemic, but 427,000 fewer women. The child care crisis has been exacerbated by the pandemic with the cost of care only increasing. According to a report by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, by late January 2021, an estimated 519,000 New Yorkers were not working due to taking care of a child at home. This legislative package is the latest set of bills spearheaded by the City’s first women-majority Council, led by the first Black Speaker and first mother and grandmother in the position.   

The legislative package contains the following: 

Introduction 242-A, sponsored by Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez, would require the creation of a Marshall Plan for Moms task force to study and develop recommendations on how to support working mothers and caregivers. The task force would be required to submit a report with recommendations within one year of the task force’s convening. 

“Women who leave the workforce to care for their children will lose more than $480k in their lifetime, money families desperately need. New York City is in the midst of a childcare crisis, which means that women and caregivers are experiencing an economic crisis,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez.  “While this package of bills does not solve all of the problems parents and providers face today, they are a signal to the City and the administration that this Council is serious about addressing the economy of care and is taking the first steps towards a true vision of universal childcare.” 

Introduction 477-A, sponsored by Council Member Crystal Hudson, would establish a child care task force to examine how to make child care more affordable and accessible for families in the city, and how to provide additional support and funding to child care providers and workers. The task force would be required to submit a report that includes recommendations for making child care in the city more affordable and accessible. 

“The prohibitive costs of child care hurt our communities, stifle the growth of local economies, hinder our efforts to close the gender wage gap, and prevent our youngest students from receiving vital early childhood education,” said Council Member Crystal Hudson. “With Int. 477, we’re taking a historic step toward guaranteeing child care for all and meaningfully and tangibly addressing the lingering effects of the pandemic felt disproportionately by women –– and women of color, in particular –– across the five boroughs. Universal child care will help narrow this persistent gap, ushering more women back into the workforce and ensuring parents do not have to choose between their families and their careers. As part of my Black Agenda for New York City, I called for a universal childcare system in New York City. And I’m proud to have delivered on that promise and worked to ensure the Council follows through as well.” 

Introduction 485-A, sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin, would require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to coordinate with the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DOITT) to create a directory of child care programs in the city, including a link to information about child day cares run by the State that are located in the City. The directory would be available in the designated citywide languages. 

Introduction 486-A, sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin, would establish a Child Care Advisory Board, which would be responsible for conducting studies on and issuing reports related to child care in the city, including providing an annual assessment of the needs of child care programs in the city, and the City’s progress towards providing universal child care. 

Introduction 487-A, sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin, would require the Administration to create an online portal that provides information on child care subsidies. The portal would allow a user to access information about subsidies including eligibility requirements, and instructions on how to apply, based on information provided by the user. The portal would also include the forms needed to apply for each subsidy, including any electronic forms available that may be submitted online through the portal. The portal would be available in the designated citywide languages. 

Introduction 488-A, sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin, would require the Administration to create a child care grant pilot program for child care programs in the city in need of assistance. To be eligible, a child care program would need to be at significant risk of closure or displacement, and meet application and other requirements established by the administering agency. The Administration would be required to submit an annual report to the Mayor and the Speaker of the Council on grants awarded pursuant to the program, and recommendations for expansion. 

Introduction 489-A, sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin, would require DOHMH to develop guidance for owners of real property regarding the facility requirements for a child care program and make such guidance available on its website. The guidance would also be required to indicate that property owners may be eligible for a tax abatement if they meet certain requirements pursuant to state law. 

Resolution 69, sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin, would call upon the New York State Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign legislation supporting the provision of financial assistance to families and child care providers to make child care more accessible and affordable.  

“Today marks a historic moment in New York City in which enacting the Universal Childcare Act will situate New York City as the first city in the country to implement universal childcare. It is tragic that over 375,000 parents were pushed out of the workforce in recent years because families/caretakers cannot afford childcare. Universal childcare will lessen the gender inequality gap as we’re giving back the choice to mothers to return or stay in the workforce as women are disproportionately affected by the childcare crisis,” said Council Member Julie Menin. “As a mother of four, I am thrilled that these childcare bills have been signed into law. New York City is setting a precedent across the nation that Universal Childcare will be realized and that parents will no longer have to choose between their career and childcare. I want to thank Speaker Adams and my colleagues at the Council for making this a priority.”