Child care subsidies could reduce poverty in New York

(NEWS10) – With an average cost of child care of more than $15,000 per year, according to the Economic Policy Institute, child care in New York is expensive and unaffordable for many families. But, there is a proposal to invest in child care and it could help lift 80,000 New Yorkers out of poverty, based on analysis by Columbia University and Robin Hood.

Downstate Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblywoman Sarah Clark of Rochester proposed the Early Learning Child Care Act in December. The law would make more money available for childcare costs and provide subsidies to families on a sliding scale based on their income. Families with incomes four times the federal poverty rate would pay nothing for child care.

Robin Hood and Columbia University said it would not only lift more than 80,000 people out of poverty, it would also get 76,000 parents of children under three back to work and give more than a million in additional revenue.

“Even before the pandemic, our state faced a child care crisis, and COVID-19 has revealed a crucial truth: child care is critical to New York’s recovery,” said Robin CEO Hood, Richard R. Buery, Jr. “Without access to affordable, quality child care, parents struggle to return to work.

According to, New Yorkers spend the fifth highest percentage of their income on childcare (21.3%). Neighboring Massachusetts spends the second highest percentage (24.4%) and Vermont the seventh (20.3%).

States that spend the highest percentage of their income on childcare

  1. District of Colombia 26.3%
  2. Massachusetts 24.4%
  3. Indiana 21.9%
  4. Minnesota 21.6%
  5. New York 21.3%

If passed, the law would also set a minimum wage for child care workers in the state. “At the same time, those we trust to watch over our children are forced to earn near-poverty wages,” Buery said. “Budgets are about priorities, and there is no higher priority than ensuring our children have the best possible start in life and getting families back on their feet after the pandemic.”

Child care workers in New York City are paid an average of $15.14/hour and $31,500/year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national average hourly wage for child care workers is $12.88, the average annual wage is $26,790. The proposal would also ensure that child care workers, at least in New York, are paid $45,000 a year.

“This analysis shows that investing in child care would jump-start our economic recovery and lift tens of thousands of our neighbors out of poverty,” Buery said. “In other words, it’s an investment in our future.”

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