Mayor Eric Adams signed a package of childcare bills into law last week sponsored by a majority woman city council. The bills address chronic issues with the city’s child care system and access to services.

“No parent leaves home without their phone, their keys, and without knowing that their child has a proper place and well-being. COVID-19 really decimated families of far too many; they had to make some strong and challenging decisions,” said Mayor Adams at the signing on Wednesday, Nov. 9. “They have lost wages and childcare in the process. We understand that and we’re focused on rightsizing to get this right.” 

East Harlem’s Union Settlement, an education and community-building organization in operation since 1895, hosted the signing. Union Settlement Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Geiling said that expansive early childcare is core to their programming and mission. She applauded the city’s efforts to bolster childcare and early childhood education. 

The sponsors for the bills include Councilmembers Julie Menin, Crystal Hudson, and Jennifer Gutiérrez along with major support from Mayor Adams, Speaker Adrienne Adams, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. 

Menin, who has four kids of her own, was heralded at the signing for her dedication to getting the bills passed. She said her bills would help close the gender inequality gap while giving choice to mothers to return or stay in the workforce. “It’s a historic moment. I’m thrilled to be here and as a working mom with four kids I can’t tell you how much this personally means to me,” said Menin.

Menin said that over 375,000 parents last year were forced to leave or were downsized in their jobs because families could not afford childcare, costing the city over $2.2 billion in lost economic revenue.

The seven childcare laws establish a childcare task force to assess affordability for families, require the city’s health and technology department to create a directory of citywide childcare programs, establish a Child Care Advisory Board, create an online portal that provides information on childcare subsidies, create a childcare grant pilot program, and develop guidance for property owners that want to open childcare centers. There’s also a resolution included that calls for the state to provide financial assistance to families and childcare providers. 

At least two bills came straight from Mayor Adams’ childcare blueprint. Adams said that parents shouldn’t have to “obtain a Ph.D.” just to access services for their kids and has vowed to streamline the process through the health and technology department. 

“As the first women-majority Council in New York City history, we fully understand that childcare remains one of the biggest challenges facing working women and families,” said Speaker Adams in a statement. “The Council has always prioritized advancing solutions to support our communities, including the expansion of affordable, high-quality, and accessible childcare on a universal basis. Now that this groundbreaking legislative package has been signed into law, our city will deliver the help and care that families need while boosting our economy.”

Hudson said in a statement that prohibitive costs of childcare hurt communities by stifling the growth of local economies. She said that ‘childcare for all’ meaningfully and tangibly addresses the lingering effects of the pandemic felt disproportionately by women, and women of color in particular. 

“Universal childcare will help narrow this persistent gap, ushering more women back into the workforce and ensuring parents do not have to choose between their families and their careers,” said Hudson in a statement. “As part of my Black Agenda for New York City, I called for a universal childcare system in New York City. And I’m proud to have delivered on that promise and worked to ensure the Council follows through as well.”

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting:

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