City Hall, NY – Today, Speaker Adrienne Adams, alongside Council Members Rita Joseph, Shekar Krishnan, Kevin Riley, Althea Stevens, and Jennifer Gutiérrez, education advocates, providers, and parents and children, outlined a framework of solutions to improve the Department of Education’s administration of New York City’s early childhood education system. The changes are designed to better meet the needs of families, ensure provider stability, and bolster the community-based provider workforce.
“Early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make for our children, working families, and New York City’s economy,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “But the city’s 3-K and early childhood education systems are broken and beset by issues from the Department of Education’s administration of them that need to be urgently resolved. The City needs to correct course to address the gaps in our weakened system so we can provide stability for this critical sector. The Council is prepared and eager to work closely with the administration and all stakeholders to right the ship, because when our children and working families succeed, New York City succeeds.”
- Increase the number of extended-day, extended-year seat options to meet the needs of working families
- The Council’s Budget Response calls for the Administration to allocate an additional $15 million to convert 1,000 school day/school year 3-K seats into extended day/extended year seats. This funding would also include signing bonuses to help attract and retain the necessary staff.
- Allow community-based providers to enroll families directly with them without the need to go through the Department of Education’s centralized process.
- Put forth an expanded, coordinated outreach and marketing effort to expand enrollment and bring awareness to availability of early childhood education programs.
- Fast track all late payments for Fiscal Years ‘22 and 23 and ensure on-time payments for Fiscal Year ‘24.
- Maintain DOE rapid response teams for future fiscal years.
- Extend providers’ ability to batch and submit multiple months of invoices for payment.
- Ensure proper staffing at city agencies including the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Department of Buildings, Administration for Children’s Services, Human Resources Administration and Fire Department to allow timely licensing, permitting, inspections, background checks and eligibility verification that providers need.
- Increase contract to allow community-based providers to offer compensation on par with their DOE counterparts.
- The Council calls on the Administration to provide $46 million in additional funding to enable these community-based providers to offer higher wages to their employees commensurate with early childhood educators employed by the DOE.
- Hire additional staff at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to expedite the Comprehensive Background Check process to allow prospective employees to be cleared and hired.
“A functioning and successful early childhood education system is essential to the future success of our city’s youngest,” said Council Member Rita Joseph. “When our students gain access to quality education early on, it gives parents the confidence and faith to continue enrolling their children in the public school system. They deserve a system without obstacles and difficulties and the Council’s solutions will put this City on the right path.”
“It is essential that the City does the necessary outreach to ensure families know about the services. Too many times our families are not aware of resources that are available for their benefit, we as a city need to do better.3K is an essential program that helps thousands of families with child care and more importantly the development of our youngest New Yorkers. It is imperative that our families be able to return to work and explore job opportunities, in addition to furthering their education thus this city has a moral obligation to support families,” said Council Member Althea Stevens.
“It’s truly infuriating to watch the continued disinvested from deeply needed early childhood education programs, based on the incorrect assumption that there isn’t enough demand. As a working mom, I know from personal experience that there is absolutely a clear need for these programs, but there simply isn’t enough outreach or availability in the places that need it the most,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez. “The fact is, DOE isn’t even tracking available seats and need – especially across extended day and extended year seats. We know that our families are facing significant obstacles from strict income requirements, fees, and cumbersome paperwork, and it’s the responsibility of the Adams administration to make these seats easier to access and continue expansion.”
“As a father of three, I understand New York families put their trust in early childhood education programs and providers to help sustain balance and support in their working households,” said Council Member Kevin C. Riley. “Together, we must ensure that vital investments are made in citywide 3-K programs to adequately meet the needs of the families who so greatly rely on them, our underserved, communities of color. Accessible and reliable early childhood education is a lifeline for our working families. With that being said, the demand for flexible and culturally competent early childhood education heavily relies on support to child care providers with the resources and services for them to deliver quality care and education. We must ensure that we are doing all we can to pay providers on-time and with the pay they deserve to preserve quality early childhood education across this City.”
“Empowering families with an educational foundation, regardless of income or immigration status, is fundamental to economic opportunity and mobility for our communities,” said Council Member Shekar Krishnan. “Early childhood education programs give New York City kids a strong start on a bright future. We need to invest more, not less, in 3K, PreK, and the agencies that run these programs.”
“Properly supporting New York City’s early childhood education system is essential to facilitate the academic and social development of children, and to stabilize the operations of service providers. This will allow organizations like Grand St. Settlement to deliver high-quality child care effectively,” said Willing Chin-Ma, Chief Operating Officer, Grand St. Settlement.
“High-quality early childhood education can be a game changer for children’s education and must be available to the children who need it most. We appreciate Speaker Adams’ attention to strengthening early childhood education and look forward to working with the Council to ensure that the City has seats in the places where they are needed; that families, including those living in shelters and immigrant families, get information and support to enroll; and that preschoolers with disabilities get the services they have a right to receive,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director, Advocates for Children of New York.
“New York City’s Early Care and Education system functions as a vital resource for children and families, promoting not only young child development and school readiness, but offering critical support to working parents,” said Jennifer March, executive director at CCC. “Sadly, despite great unmet need, thousands of publicly funded child care, 3-K and UPK seats remain open and parents face daunting barriers accessing programs that meet their needs, with limited options for full-day and year-round care and a cumbersome application and enrollment process. We thank the City Council for their leadership championing solutions to these challenges and building a more sustainable path to universal early care and education in New York City.”
“Settlement houses are pioneers in providing high quality early childhood education programming in New York City, and the last few years have underscored the need for bold action to support these programs. Now is the time to support NYC’s families with options that match their preferences, work hours, budgets, and neighborhoods; and to support the early childhood education workforce through every avenue possible, most crucially through salary parity between community-based organization and DOE staff. We thank Speaker Adams and the New York City Council for addressing this important issue and for fighting for children, families, and educators across the city,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses.
“New York City’s early childhood education is at a crucial inflection point, and the actions taken in this year’s budget negotiations will directly impact thousands of our families and their children,” said Tara N. Gardner, Executive Director of the Day Care Council of New York. “Day Care Council of New York is proud to stand in solidarity with Speaker Adrienne Adams and leaders of the City Council to call for a budget that invests in child care. In the FY 24 budget, New York City must fund a new labor contract that brings the workforce in contracted child care centers to salary parity with their colleagues in public schools, ensures the availability of desperately needed extended day and infant/toddler seats, and stabilizes the budget of the early childhood programs that are crucial to our children’s education and NYC’s economy.”
“Working families need access to affordable high quality early childhood education,” said Sharon Greenberger, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York. “The non-profit workforce providing these critical services deserve to be paid on par with their DOE counterparts. We thank the Speaker, Chair Joseph, and the Council for calling on the Administration to invest in our youngest New Yorkers and preserve and enhance the City’s 3k system.”