Letter: It’s time to fix our broken child care system in this state

Asian female teacher teaching mixed race kids reading book in classroom,Kindergarten pre school concept.
Photo courtesy Getty Images

To the Editor,

Child care. It’s an absolute necessity for families and it should be high quality, affordable and accessible to all. I’m a mom of two boys under the age of 5, and I can say from personal experience that what should be and what is are far, far apart. The lack of quality, affordable child care in my neighborhood is a major challenge for my family and so many others.

I feel lucky to have found a spot for my oldest in a pre-K program that’s relatively affordable, but the costs still add up. Finding child care for my youngest has been incredibly difficult. Most programs are way outside our budget. But even if we could pay, finding an open spot at a quality program is a huge challenge. There aren’t many options in the 10469 area of the Bronx where I live, and the majority of child care programs don’t align with my working hours. That makes it nearly impossible for me to get to work or pick up my kids on time.

And with many programs closing due to the challenges created by the pandemic, the child care shortage is only getting worse.

I finally enrolled my youngest in a day care that works well for us, but it has a tuition rate of $340 per week to $1,360 per month. We are just above the income limit to qualify for child care vouchers, so we have no choice but to pay out of pocket; after all, we need child care to keep our jobs. But the high cost makes it hard for us to keep up with other bills and impossible to save for emergencies. At the same time, most child care providers aren’t paid living wages.

Our child care system is broken and has been for a long time. I’m proud to fight for change and as a member of MomsRising, I’m urging Gov. Kathy Hochul and our New York state lawmakers to invest at least $5 billion needed to finally get our state on the path to the universal child care we need. Working families are counting on all our elected leaders to stand up for us and invest in child care, so children, families and businesses can thrive.

Stephanie Blake