LOWER MANHATTAN — New York City has universal pre-kindergarten and universal 3-K, for three year-olds; now a packet of legislation submitted to the New York City Council on Thursday would help to add universal child care to the list.

It would ensure that all children in the city, regardless of age, or family income, would have access to child care, if the legislation passes. The universal child care legislation is a packet of five bills that propose a variety of actions, including:

  • creating a city advisory board that would map out universal child care policies
  • providing financial grants to existing child care centers to help to ensure that they stay in business
  • creating an online listing of child care providers for every neighborhood, city-wide
  • providing funding for a building program to start new child care centers.  

The measure, sponsored by City Councilmember Julie Menin, was launched with a press conference and demonstration in City Hall Park on Thursday morning before Menin introduced it to the City Council Thursday afternoon. More than a third of the city’s 51 councilmembers attended the kickoff in person, to show their support for the legislation.

For parents Duri Lim and Dae Kang, the mother and father, respectively, of 7-month-old Monet Kang, the universal child care legislation is an important new development, but it’s come too late.

“We’re actually moving to a different state,” Lim told PIX11 News, while she and her husband, Kang, walked their daughter in her stroller down a street in Boerum Hill Brooklyn.  

“It’s part of the reason we’re moving,” Kang said, referring to the high cost of child care. 

Child care costs around $4,000 a month, Lim said.

“It’s like higher than rent,” Lim said.

The couple said that they support universal child care because they know that many New Yorkers can’t afford the level of rent they have, and shoulder the cost of child care as well.  

Sandra I. Coleman, who leads a public housing tenants’ group at NYCHA’s Isaacs Houses, said that for people where she lives, “Child care is so expensive.”

“If you put your child in day care, you’ve got to drop them off,” Coleman continued, “and then, if you work full time, somebody’s got to pick them up, so that’s another expense you have to pay.”

Menin, the sponsor of the proposed legislation, said that universal child care is about ensuring that all families have access to providers who are conveniently located, and have services that are within every families’ budgets. 

“We need to make sure that for families where child care is not affordable,” Menin said in an interview, “that we make it affordable.  We need to do that through direct subsidies.”

The proposed legislation would develop universal child care over a five year period, if it gets passed, and gets funded. 

No vote has yet been set, but the strong support shown for the measure indicates that it’s likely to move fairly quickly throughout the council’s legislative process.