All these efforts are building strong track records for success. They still, however, only reach a highly circumscribed number of those who need them most. And they do not in any way guarantee that every lowincome mother in the city will have access to the core resources that every primary caregiver needs. In short, significantly more investment is needed into bolstering the basic infrastructure of low-income neighborhoods, expanding basic supports for all low-income parents, and offering tailored programs to low-income parents struggling with special circumstances.
THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB IN THE WORLD: SUPPORTING GIRLS WHILE THEIR CAREGIVERS WORK A solid majority of NYC’s low-income black, Latina and immigrant mothers/grandmothers are the sole or main wage earners for their families. They are also the backbone of the city’s low-wage labor force and the bedrock of its economy. As cashiers and office cleaners, clerks and restaurant workers, they provide the foundation on which the city’s business and commercial sectors rest. As nannies, childcare workers, home health aides and housekeepers, they provide the support system on which its higher-paid working parents depend. NYC’s low-income black, Latina and immigrant mothers/grandmothers are also often the sole or main wage earners for their families. And they are also the backbone of the city’s low-wage labor force and the bedrock of its economy. And yet those vitally important low-wage working mothers can – themselves – count on very few of the supports and protections that all working mothers need if they are to manage their multiple, frequentlyconflicting responsibilities. They are generally minimally-paid for their efforts. Their employers 8
A Voices from the Field Report
generally demand work schedules that are both too unpredictable to allow for reliable childcare arrangements and too rigid to accommodate the occasional family emergency. And – perhaps most challenging of all – they have extremely limited options and supports available to manage their children’s care while they are on the job. New York’s publicly-supported childcare services – while better than what exists in many other parts of the country – do not in any way represent a universal subsidized system. They were never intended (nor adequately funded) to reach all the hard-working low-wage mothers who need them. The current supports comprise: • Childcare vouchers distributed to some 70,000 women who are on – or are at risk for seeking – public assistance (PA) so they can “work off” or avoid requesting this entitlement. • EarlyLearn: A system of some 36,000 subsidized direct childcare slots provided on a sliding-scale fee basis to working mothers meeting certain stringent income and employment criteria. Some EarlyLearn slots are located in centers run by contracted community organizations. The rest are located in the homes of individual licensed or registered family childcare providers. New York’s publicly-supported childcare services were never intended – nor adequately funded – to reach all the hard-working low-wage mothers who need them. The experts agree that the available EarlyLearn services are generally of high quality. Families lucky enough to gain a slot are basically guaranteed ten hours a day of nurturing, strongly learning-focused care within environments that are typically welcoming to both the children and the parents. And yet, the experts also stress, the system as a whole has certain deep flaws:
Published on Feb 16, 2017
Published on Feb 16, 2017
Experts in the area of early childhood development explain that for little girls, the period between birth and age eight comprises a coheren...