Elected officials joined backers of the “Care for All Families” campaign in City Hall Park Tuesday to demand funding for all children, especially undocumented immigrants to be included in the City’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget.
New York State legislators expanded childcare in the state budget last month; however, New York City elected officials lambasted Albany for leaving behind what they say is an essential group—undocumented immigrants. Private early childcare in New York City can cost astronomical amounts of money, and those living paycheck to paycheck are left to choose between family care and work.
Comptroller Brad Lander rallied on May 31 around Council Members Tiffany Cabán and Shahana Hanif, along with members of Make the Road NY and NICE to demand the city invest $10 million in order to provide childcare for undocumented families. This is something Cabán says is easily obtainable and comes at the cost of roughly 0.01% of the city’s total budget.
“If there was any question before the pandemic, it is certainly undeniable now that undocumented New Yorkers keep this city running,” Cabán said. “Since we rely on the labor of our undocumented neighbors to stay afloat, we have a moral and economic obligation to guarantee them the same publicly-subsidized childcare other New York families are entitled to. A commitment to true public safety must include a commitment to meeting families’ needs so they aren’t stressed to the breaking point, and meeting children’s needs so they grow up healthy, connected, and secure.”
Advocates argue that no child should be left behind, yet currently, they say children of undocumented immigrants will be at a disadvantage in life without access to early childhood programs. If allocated, the funds would make city-run early childhood education and care vouchers available to children currently ineligible due to their immigration status while also ensuring that DOE-contracted programs accept city-funded vouchers.
“Our city offers all school-age children regardless of immigration status a public education because providing an education to all has enormous benefits to children, families, and our city. Those benefits shouldn’t just begin when a child enrolls in school; they should begin at birth. Our city should engage our youngest learners and ensure that working families have access to high-quality care regardless of immigration status. When we build a city where no one is excluded from obtaining care, where workers can support their families without worry—that is when everyone can thrive,” Comptroller Lander said.