Early Childhood Poverty Tracker: Child Care, Affordability, Accessibility and the Costs of Disruptions

Jul 29, 2021
  • Description

This report leverages data from the Early Childhood Poverty Tracker (see text box for a more detailed description), a Columbia University and Robin Hood study of more than 1,500 parents of young children in New York City, to provide a window into how families – especially low-income parents – managed their child care needs before the onset of the pandemic and what happens when families experience disruptions in their child care.

PART I of this report focuses on accessibility and affordability of child care in New York City before the pandemic, specifically discussing what types of child care families used, including center-based, home-based, and informal care, and how they afforded that care.

PART II explores both the extent and the economic cost of child care disruptions for New Yorkers, including an analysis of disruptions during the pandemic. To analyze the costs and impacts of disruptions, both to families and to the economy overall, the report replicates similar studies conducted in Maryland and Louisiana, which found that both states lost over $1 billion in a given year from parental absence and turnover due to child care disruptions. While the data we use for this analysis were collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can only expect that the impacts documented here were exacerbated due to the disruptions of daily life brought about by COVID-19.

Together, these findings highlight the difficult trade-offs between access, quality, and affordability for families of young children, as well as the economic implications of disruptions to child care. This report can inform policymakers and practitioners as they lay the groundwork for reopening the city's centers and reimagine a better, more inclusive, and more accessible system.