Administration’s failure to agree on investments would leave thousands of preschool-aged children and families without access to needed childcare and legally required services

City Hall, NY – Days ahead of the impending June 30 city budget deadline, New York City Council leaders, unions representing education workers, parents of preschool children, and early childhood education providers and advocates rallied at City Hall to call on the Mayor to agree to restorations of cuts and investments in early childhood education programs. A lack of investment into the early childhood education system would leave thousands of families and children without access, including legally mandated special education services.

For the upcoming 2024-2025 school year, families have been placed on waitlists for their chosen programs with over 2,000 children still waiting for a seat after more than a month.

The livestream of the rally can be found here. Photos can be found here.

“New Yorkers are relying on the City to deliver a budget that prioritizes and funds early childhood education,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “The Council is fighting for equitable opportunity for working families, investments in our children’s education, and dignity for our providers. The reality is that not every child has a seat, and we must confront that with investments that fund and fix the system. Now is the time to strengthen 3-K, Pre-K, preschool special education and Promise NYC to make good on our promise to New Yorkers. Our children and families need us to get this right.”

At the end of the 2022-2023 school year, more than 1,100 children were still waiting for a seat in a preschool special education class, despite Mayor Adams’ December 2022 promise that every child would have a seat in their legally mandated class. 12,300 children also never received their preschool special education class or at least one of their mandated preschool special education services. Without additional funding in the Fiscal Year 2025 budget, hundreds of preschool children with disabilities who are legally entitled to a seat in preschool special education class would go without one. The Mayor’s Executive Budget funded less than a third of the Department of Education’s request provide legally mandated special education services for preschool children.

‘As a city, we must invest in early childhood education in order to have an education system that serves all students, especially our youngest New Yorkers,” said Council Member Rita Joseph, Chair of the Committee on Education. “That requires investing in preschool education services and seats, restoring resources to 3-K, maintaining access to Promise NYC and giving working parents the options they need. Failure to do so will push more families away due to the lack of affordable and accessible childcare. We cannot afford to wait any longer. This Administration must act now to join us in investing in the future and long-term success of our children.”

“The mayor loves to make promises, but when it comes to delivering on them—whether through long-term strategies or immediate solutions—he consistently falls short,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutierrez. “By insisting on cutting 3K programs, he is failing parents, labor, and businesses. The promises made to New Yorkers are now being broken, with drastic cuts to incredibly popular child care funding, parents are leaving, nonprofits are struggling and closing, and students with disabilities left at home. While the City Council fights for a more affordable New York, we must ask: who is the mayor really fighting for?”

To assess the Department of Education’s management and performance of paying early childhood education providers, the Council analyzed of the DOE’s payments to 20 early childhood education providers operating in zip codes with the highest economic need through Q3 of the City’s Fiscal Year. These zip codes which consist overwhelmingly of Black and Latino residents include 10303, 10033, 11102, 11239 and 10475. The analysis found that only 3 providers had been paid up to 75% or three-quarters of their contracted amount.

In Fiscal Year 2023, the Council and Administration created Promise NYC, a program to provide access to childcare for undocumented children and their families through community-based organizations. In the current Fiscal Year, the program is funded at $16 million to support hundreds of children and families but no funding was allocated in the Mayor’s Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2025. The Council has called for a restoration and enhancement to the program to maintain the current level of access and provide additional seats.

“We stand with Speaker Adrienne Adams, Education Chair Rita Joseph, Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez and our City Council allies in calling for a restoration of funding for our 3-K, Pre-K and special needs pre-school programs,” said Karen Alford, UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools. “Our students deserve the best start to their education. We cannot let them down.”

“The lack of access to affordable child care options in our city has put families in an impossible position,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children. “Parents need affordable care to help support their children’s development and academic success and to allow parents to enter or remain in the workforce and secure financial stability for their families. The cuts proposed to child care and afterschool in the city’s budget will have a devastating impact on families’ ability to access care, at a time when they are already leaving the city because they can’t afford to raise families here. The Mayor must stand by his promise that every child who needs a 3-K seat will receive one. We urge the Administration to restore proposed cuts to the Early Care and Education and after school systems, and to address operational and contracting barriers that are impeding access to services.”

‘New York City families and communities cannot thrive without a stable and responsive early childhood education system,” said Tara N. Gardner, Executive Director of the Day Care Council of New York. “The City Budget must restore funding for early care and education programs and invest in the workforce that cares for and educates the youngest New Yorkers. The Day Care Council of New York is proud to stand with Speaker Adams and the City Council to call for a Budget that makes these crucial investments. NYC’s children and families and the early childhood workforce deserve a well-funded system that meets their needs.”

“Early childhood investments are among the most consequential we can make as a society,” said Richard R. Buery, Jr., CEO of Robin Hood. “They support the healthy development of our youngest New Yorkers, enable parents to work, and boost our local economy. As COVID relief funds continue to expire, poverty and hardship are on the rise. We must ensure that existing investments in early childhood education are spared from budget cuts and minimally, current funding levels are sustained in whole.”

“It has become clear that New York City’s financial position is much stronger than Mayor Adams originally predicted,” said Nora Moran, Director of Policy & Advocacy at United Neighborhood Houses. “At this point, proposed cuts to early childhood education, Promise NYC, and afterschool programs are more than just misguided—they’re unnecessary. Thank you to Speaker Adams and City Council for holding firm to ensure this budget reflects New York’s values.”

“The YMCA of Greater New York stands with Speaker Adams and the New York City Council in prioritizing critical investments in the early childhood education system,” said Sharon Greenberger, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York. “We see the rising demand for affordable childcare citywide and we hear from families who are frustrated and confused by the 3K enrollment process. We echo the Council’s call on the Mayor to restore and invest the funding for early childhood education programs, like 3K, preschool special education and Promise NYC, and support a comprehensive awareness campaign that engages our communities and simplifies the early childhood application process for our families.”

“It is imperative that every family that calls New York home has access to safe and affordable early childhood programs, to get children on the path to success while parents work. We stand with the City Council to demand Mayor Adams restore funding for the critical programs that serve New York families and children by expanding funding for 3-K, Pre-K and preschool special education, as well as investing $25 million for Promise NYC. It’s long past time the city prioritized children in our budget as an investment in our City’s future,” said Liza Schwartzwald, Director of Economic Justice and Family Empowerment, New York Immigration Coalition

“As NYC’s FY25 budget nears completion, we urge the Administration to prioritize New York City’s working families by securing continued access to 3-K and Pre-K for all,” said Phoebe Boyer, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Investment in early childhood education is crucial for New York’s economic recovery and reversing the proposed $170M cut to these programs is essential. We applaud Speaker Adams for her unwavering leadership in advocating for our families’ needs.”