Campaign for Children Launches 2021 Policy Platform Calling on Next Mayor to Prioritize the Health and Well-being of New York’s Children

Platform Backed By 150 Organizations as Citywide Coalition Calls for Universal Access to Full-Day Early Child Care, Comprehensive Salary Parity for Child Care Providers, Universal Year-round Youth Services, and more. 

As COVID-19 Pandemic Laid Bare Long-standing Racial Inequalities,

The Need to Invest in Vulnerable Children and Families Has Never Been More Urgent

 New York, NY – Today, the Campaign for Children, a citywide coalition of 150 early childhood education and after-school providers and advocacy organizations including Citizens’ Committee for Children, United Neighborhood Houses, the Day Care Council of New York, FPWA, the YMCA of Greater New York, UJA-Federation of New York, Good Shepherd Services and Children’s Aid, launched their 2021 policy platform directed at Mayoral candidates and the next group of City leaders. The platform details the opportunity and urgency for meaningful investment in children and youth through universal access to full-day early child care, comprehensive salary parity in the early child care sector, and expanded access to after school and summer programming including the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), among other proposals.

 As the pandemic continues to shed light on the deep racial and economic inequalities in the City’s education, child care and youth programming systems, the moment for action is now. The annual cost of center-based child care alone for low-income families with children under five years old can consume up to 65% of median household incomes. In addition, summer youth programs like camps and SYEP were underfunded and had limited enrollment last year, and the challenges of this school year have only heightened the need for youth services. Meanwhile, the digital divide in NYC was stark in 2019, as there were roughly 140,000 children in households without internet, including dial-up, broadband, and cellular data plans.

The platform outlines 15 policy priorities to not only help families recover but combat long-standing disparities as well.  The recommendations are designed to achieve a comprehensive and holistic continuum of child care spanning birth to age five, improved early education and expanded after school and summer programming that support the wellbeing of children and their families. Key recommendations include:

Education & Child Care

●      Achieve universal access to infant and toddler care for the youngest children;

●      Ensure 3K-for-all and universal Pre-K (UPK) for four-year-olds meet need and become universal;

●      Make every early childhood seat full-day and year-round;

●      Ensure comprehensive salary parity for CBO preschool educators and staff;

●      Meet the needs of preschoolers with disabilities.

After School and Summer Programming

●      Create universal access to year-round afterschool and summer camp;

●      Expand SYEP;

●      Ensure children and youth with disabilities can participate in all afterschool and summer programs;

Promoting Access

●      Invest in Wi-Fi access across the city, targeting internet hotspots in shelters, NYCHA buildings and other underserved areas;

●      Distribute age-appropriate devices for children who might require them to learn and develop within school, childcare, or youth service programs;

●      Integrate early intervention and behavioral-health programming to meet children’s social-emotional needs.

“Our budget is a reflection of our values, and no budget should ever be balanced on the backs of our young people. Funds spent on early childhood eduction, summer programming and after school programming are investments in the lives of young people and in the future of our city. The Campaign for Children has been a steadfast voice for ensuring that the city meet the needs of our young people, and this document reflects that commitment while serving as a blueprint for our city’s future investments and commitments,” said City Councilmember Debi Rose, Chair of the Youth Services Committee.

The platform also outlines ways to strengthen the community-based organizations that provide these services, as well as promote innovation and improve accessibility. Recommendations argue the incoming Mayoral administration must continue to build on the lessons learned from the pandemic and leverage the already existing foundation to continue providing the necessary childcare and youth program opportunities.

“The past year has brought a multitude of challenges to children, youth and families – disruption in education, heightened housing, income, and food insecurity, social isolation and social-emotional trauma. Fortunately, the early care, early education and youth services sectors have been and will continue to be well-positioned to meet these challenges and address child and family needs,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “The next Mayoral administration, incoming City Council, and other city leaders face a unique opportunity to advance a transformative policy agenda;  we call upon them to create and fund universal approaches to early care, early education and youth services to put children, families, and New York City on the path to a full recovery. ”

“As the settlement house movement has shown us, we know what works for New York City’s children and families: access to early childhood and youth development programs that support growth and learning. This election is the chance to make this system equitable and to ensure that it reaches everyone in New York City. The next mayor and our city’s next leaders will have the opportunity to put this vision into action. Our platform provides a roadmap to scale vital programs that support children and youth, to give families and caregivers the support they need, and to make sure the workforce is well-equipped to do their jobs,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses.

“As our city recovers from the pandemic’s impact on public health and the economy, prioritizing the success of our children and youth is a must,” said Children’s Aid President and CEO Phoebe C. Boyer. “The next mayor will have an opportunity to expand and improve upon a strong foundation of support through early childhood and youth programs and services. We are hopeful that the candidates and future mayor utilize this platform as a resource – and leverage the expertise of the early childhood and youth services sectors as partners – to push forward children- and youth-centered policies that will help our youngest succeed and thrive.”

“UJA-Federation of New York applauds the Campaign for Children for developing A Call To Action: The Campaign For Children’s Plan for Incoming City Leaders to Achieve Universal Access to Early Care and Education and Youth Services. As a member of the Campaign for Children steering committee, UJA looks forward to ensuring incoming policymakers are educated on this plan and use it to better support the children, youth and families who live in New York City,” said Louisa Chafee, Senior Vice President, External Relations and Public Policy, UJA-Federation of New York.

“New York City’s early childhood education system is at a crossroads and the next Mayor must act to support and grow the early childhood workforce, expand opportunities for early childhood education and ensure that programs are fully funded to provide high-quality services.  The Campaign for Children Platform sets out a roadmap to achieve that.  Day Care Council of New York looks forward to working with New York City’s leaders to make that a reality,” said Andrea Anthony, Executive Director, The Day Care Council of New York.

“At a time when the City’s children and families needed a strong, comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City’s youth services sector stepped up and worked hard to support our children and families,” said Sharon Greenberger, President & CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York. “After a challenging year of losses, disruptions, isolation, and trauma, we’ve seen clearly that the path to a successful and sustainable recovery must be a family-first approach. We encourage the next mayoral administration, the incoming city council, and other city leaders to review this 2021 Policy Platform and create policies that prioritize children and families, set the city on a path to full recovery, and chart the course for decades to come.”

You can view the policy platform in its entirety here:

Download this press release here.

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