UES Lawmaker Leads Charge for Universal Childcare in New York City

UES City Council Member Julie Menin leads charge for universal childcare in NYC
City Council Member Julie Menin leads charge for universal childcare in NYC | BBC Creative/Unsplash

MANHATTAN – Ask any mom or dad in New York City and they’ll tell you child care costs are staggering, with many parents shelling out thousands each month. Upper East Side City Council Member Julie Menin is working to change that— leading the charge to ease the burden on parents by introducing five new bills that chart the course to make universal childcare a reality.

“This is a deeply personal issue for me,” said Council Member Menin, who is a mother to four children of her own.

“The city can and must do better to make childcare affordable and equitable.”

UES City Council Member Julie Menin leads rally for universal childcare in City Hall Park | Upper East Site
UES City Council Member Julie Menin leads rally for universal childcare in City Hall Park | Upper East Site

Menin and a coalition of nine other council members stood together with parents and industry advocates in City Hall Park on Thursday morning to rally support for the package of legislation, pointing to the stunning statistic that childcare for infants in NYC is on average more than $21,000 per year— a crippling cost for too many families on the Upper East Side and across the five boroughs.

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“We are here as a group of colleagues to demand that the City of New York implement universal childcare once and for all,” Menin explained.

“Lack of access to childcare is a gender equality issue as women are literally being pushed out of the workforce. They cannot find affordable childcare.”

UES City Council Member Julie Menin leads rally for universal childcare in City Hall Park | Upper East Site
UES City Council Member Julie Menin leads rally for universal childcare in City Hall Park | Upper East Site

One of the reasons they cant find affordable childcare, Menin says, is because too many day cares are shutting down— noting that there were one thousand fewer registered day care facilities in New York City in 2020 than there was five years earlier. And it doesn’t stop there, Menin says.

“Providers around the city severely lack resources and cannot adequately pay and retain qualified staff. This crisis has a ripple effect

on many aspects of our daily life,” said Council Member Menin. 

Rally for universal childcare held in City Hall Park on Thursday | Upper East Site
Rally for universal childcare held in City Hall Park on Thursday | Upper East Site

Laying the groundwork for the city to build a universal childcare program that would cover all children, including those who are undocumented, is the package of five bills being introduced into City Council on Thursday by Menin. 

First, the legislation would establish a new advisory board to make recommendations that will advance NYC on a five year plan to implement universal childcare. 

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Other bills include grants of up to $20,000 to help keep struggling day care centers open, the creation of a new online childcare directory and a portal so parents can see which subsidies for which they may qualify. 

The last piece of legislation would create a certified building program to increase the number of daycare providers, incentivizing buildings to provide more day care space.

UES City Council Member Julie Menin leads rally for universal childcare in City Hall Park | Upper East Site
UES City Council Member Julie Menin leads rally for universal childcare in City Hall Park | Upper East Site

“Affordable childcare is the foundation upon which we rebuild from the aftermath of the pandemic,” says Menin.

“One of the wealthiest cities in the world must take steps to address the need for affordable, high-quality early childhood care.” 

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