The “NYC Under 3” Plan Will Expand Affordable Childcare Access to Working Families Throughout the City

The price of infant care in New York City has soared to $21,000 a year, just for a spot in a daycare center–making raising kids challenging for many families. Comptroller Scott Stringer’s NYC Under 3 proposal, however, would slash costs for 70,000 working families, triple the number of infants and toddlers in city-backed care, and enable approximately 20,000 more parents–primarily mothers–to enter the workforce, boosting earnings for families across the city. NYC Under 3 also plans to expand the number of families eligible for publicly supported childcare through a payroll tax that would exempt small businesses.

“Quality, affordable child care must be a fundamental right for every family, not just a privileged few, so every child in this city has a bright future,” said Stringer. “Government has ignored the crisis in childcare for too long and we must act now. NYC Under 3 is a down payment on future generations and would benefit children, parents, and the local economy by increasing job stability and economic security.”

Stringer found that spending $21,000 on a spot in daycare is equivalent to spend three times as much as in-state tuition at the City University of New York, or 125% of median rent citywide. To make matters worse, childcare centers across the five boroughs only have the capacity to take in 6% of the city’s infants. Many communities have become “childcare deserts” much like food deserts or playground deserts that also exist across the city. In the 10 communities with the most limited capacity, there are more than ten times as many infants as licensed childcare spaces, according to Stringer’s calculations. Capacity is most limited in Tottenville/Great Kills, Bushwick, and in Sunnyside/Woodside, where providers can accommodate fewer than 5% of children under two.

NYC Under 3 aims to to increase childcare affordability for families that make up to about $100,000 through decreasing family contributions. The plan will also dedicate funding for childcare start-up and expansion grants and make a capital commitment of $500 million over five years to construct and renovate childcare facilities–and create a higher quality childcare system through funding, educational training, professional development, and scholarships.

The Comptroller’s Office believes NYC Under 3 can be rolled out over six years, costing about $660 million annually. To help pay for the program, Senators Jessica Ramos and Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Latrice Walker plan to introduce legislation calling for a childcare payroll tax on private employers in New York City with payrolls totaling $2.5 million or more, which would exempt roughly 95% of all businesses. The proposed payroll tax would be applied quarterly on a graduating scale. In contrast to a tax on the incomes of workers, businesses will be able to fully deduct state and local taxes on their federal tax returns.

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