Shouldering the Strain: How Counties Cope with Inadequate Child Care Funding

Susan Antos, Lily Pickett December 11, 2019

At an annual cost of $15,394, quality child care is unaffordable for 90% of New York families. New York State ranks 6th out of all 50 states for the most expensive infant care. In fact, a minimum wage worker would have to work for 35 weeks just to pay for one infant’s child care! Yet subsidized child care is underfunded and increasingly unavailable.

Shouldering the Strain: How Counties Cope with Inadequate Child Care* breaks down the top methods that counties across New York State employ to deal with this chronic and worsening underfunding. Based on data collected by Empire Justice from July to August of this year, this report includes up-to-date information on the methods counties use to try and stretch child care funds, from lowering eligibility levels or closing intake to denying subsidies to parents and caretakers with disabilities.

Shouldering the Strain also includes information on current initiatives that are helping to increase access to child care, as well as recommendations on what New York State must do next: assess the unmet need; create consistent eligibility requirements, assure that copays are affordable, and expand funding for facilitated enrollment and all child care.

Stagnant funding, a growing low wage work force, and the steadily increasing cost of child care have created a perfect storm, straining New York’s child care subsidy program to the breaking point. This report is a must-read for anyone who is trying to understand the complex patchwork of child care subsidy programs across the state.

Read the report


*Report has been updated January 17, 2020, to make corrections to Fig. 1 and 5.