report: new york city Family child care program is floundering

The Report from The New School's Center for New York City Affairs Demonstrates Partial Failure of Program for Low-Income Babies and Toddlers

A Forum Discussing The Report, "Bringing It All Home: Problems and Possibilities Facing NYC's Family Child Care," will be held Tuesday, May 10, 9-11 a.m. at The New School

A report from The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School shows that EarlyLearnNYC, a reform launched by the Bloomberg Administration to improve subsidized family child care to thousands of low-income New Yorkers, is failing to improve its programs for babies and toddlers.

NEW YORK, May 9, 2016—EarlyLearnNYC, a reform launched by the Bloomberg Administration to improve subsidized family child care to thousands of low-income New Yorkers, is failing to improve its programs for babies and toddlers.

That’s according to an investigation by The Center for New York City Affairs (CNYCA) at The New School, which found that the program is underfunded and that many of its requirements are setting up home-based child care providers for failure.

“EarlyLearn’s essential shortcoming is that it fails to articulate a clear vision of what quality home-based care looks like for babies and toddlers younger than three, and how to support that quality,” says Kristin Morse, executive director of CNYCA. “EarlyLearn’s requirements and goals are laudable, but also are insufficiently tailored to the realities and limitations of family child care providers, and don’t enhance the small, warm, nurturing home environments that are unique strengths of this model of care.”

The report, “Bringing It All Home: Problems and Possibilities Facing NYC's Family Child Care,” also identifies positive effects of the EarlyLearn reform, such as empowering caregivers to identify and address developmental delays in children.

The findings will be released in conjunction with a CNYCA-hosted forum, “Bringing It All Home: Problems and Possibilities Facing NYC's Family Child Care”, on Tuesday, May 10, 9-11 a.m. at Theresa Lang Community & Student Center, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor. Experts will take part in a conversation about how to improve the quality of family child care, which is the most common child care arrangement for children from low-income families—and a major feeder to prekindergarten. The event will also be aired on The New School’s Livestream page.

Findings of the report include:

  • Home-based caregivers of very young children, many of whom have limited education and do not speak English, are being set up to fail by being asked to meet the unrealistic requirements, including preparing daily written lesson plans and making detailed evaluations of each child’s educational needs and progress
  • In attempting to meet the requirements of EarlyLearnNYC, family child care providers are creating developmentally inappropriate activities such as trying to teach an 18-month-old how to identify numbers
  • Only about half the city’s more than 1,700 EarlyLearn family child care providers are “up to speed” in meeting EarlyLearn requirements
  • The EarlyLearn organizations charged with supporting and monitoring the providers say their contracts with Administration for Children’s Services don’t cover the costs of administering home-based care. Costs are being passed on to providers in the form of administrative fees that vary widely from organization to organization and, thus, lead to different rates of pay among the home-based providers, who are already paid very low wages.

The report proposes two overarching course corrections to help EarlyLearn achieve its goal of improving family child care:

  • The City should revise its practice of borrowing child care practices for older (ages 3 and up) children in larger and more structured and staffed child care centers and importing them to home-based providers working with toddlers and infants
  • The City should provide clearer quality guidelines for the network support staff who work with family child care providers, framing their roles as both coach and monitor with clear expectations and ample resources

In line with these proposals, the report includes recommendations from an advisory board of experts and stakeholders assembled by the Center for New York City Affairs.   

The executive summary of the report can be viewed on CNYCA's website.

The full report, which will be published by the Center for New York City Affairs in June 2016, is made possible by the generous sponsorship and leadership of the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation as well as to the generous support of the Child Care and Early Education Fund. For more information about it, contact Kendra Hurley at HurleyK@newschool.edu or 212-229-5400, ext. 1501 or 917-929-7422. 

The Center for New York City Affairs at the New School is an applied policy research institute that drives innovation in social policy, focused on its impact on low-income communities. Its goal is to identify practical solutions and fresh ideas to address pressing social and economic issues. For more information about the report.

Founded in 1919, The New School was born out of principles of academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. Committed to social engagement, The New School today remains in the vanguard of innovation in higher education, with more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students challenging the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The New School welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and calendar of lectures, screenings, readings, and concerts. Through its online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.

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Media Contacts:

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