For many New York parents, paying for child care can cost more than their rent — and sometimes even more than their salary.
In her State of the City speech Thursday, Council Speaker Christine Quinn acknowledged city parents need help, and outlined a new plan for middle-class families.
Low-income families are eligible for subsidized child care from the city, Quinn said. But for families earning between roughly $40,000 and $111,000 a year, who are ineligible for public subsidies, Quinn promised a new program, the first of its kind in the nation.
For those families, the city will pay for half of the cost of child care as a loan, and families would eventually pay it back over time. The speaker’s office estimates that families would have about four years to pay back a loan at about a 5 or 6 percent interest rate.
“Child care can be a daunting expense for new parents,” Quinn said. “There’s a group that’s been left out of the conversation altogether — middle-income families who can’t afford to pay for child care out of pocket, but make too much to qualify for subsidized programs.”
New York City would be the first in the U.S. to have such a program, she said.
Quinn estimated that child care averages $13,000 each year in New York. Betty Holcomb, policy director at the Center for Children’s Initiatives, agreed.
“That’s more than college at a public university,” she said. “It’s often for families as much, or more, than what rent or mortgage is in the family budget. It’s a huge expense.”
But some parents say $13,000 is a low estimate. Carroll Gardens mom Courtney Cosentino, 32, found that a full-time nanny would cost about $2,600 per month, plus the nanny’s MetroCard and paying for the kids’ activities. When she crunched the numbers, she found the expense came out to more than $32,000 per year.
One day care center they visited wanted $2,500 per month, she said.
“The nanny was adding up to more than our rent,” she said. “It’s a really difficult situation.”
Cost of child care
The average family spends up to $16,250 each year for an infant, $11,648 for a toddler and $9,620 for a school-age child, according to Quinn’s office.
According to September 2011 estimates from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, day care in New York City cost an average of $330 each week for children under 1 and a half years old.
For children aged 1 and a half to 2 years old, the weekly cost was $255; for children 3 to 5 years old, $217; and for children 6 to 12 years old, $210.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand estimates that child care in New York City is increasing $1,612 each year.