Single parents in Queens may be struggling more than most as a result of the city’s affordability crisis, according to two recent reports from City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.
While the cost of living in New York City is leaving many people without much in their pockets, single parents are making less on average and, in some cases, have higher expenses due to expenses like child care costs.
Together, the Affordability Index report, released June 19, and the NYC Under Three report, released in May, show that single parents in Queens face a monthly crisis – their expenses outweigh their income and their lack of access to affordable child care only puts them further in the hole.
Sunnyside, Woodside, Elmhurst and South Corona rank among the top 10 communities in the city with the fewest child care spots available. In Sunnyside and Woodside, only 5 percent of children under the age of 2 have access to affordable child care.
“Finding child care in New York City is an exercise in frustration for too many parents,” Stringer said. “Families are being hit by both the astronomical cost of child care and the lack of child care centers across neighborhoods.”
“Areas like Sunnyside, Elmhurst, and Flushing are child care deserts where there are only enough day care spaces for fewer than 10 percent of toddlers in the neighborhoods,” Stringer added. “That’s unacceptable, and it’s why we need to make a bold investment in child care right now.”
According to the Affordability Index, a single parent of two making around $3,650 a month has to spend around 20 percent of their income on child care. This cost could go as high as 48 percent of their total income if availability issues force the parent to send their child to a child care center, which tend to be more expensive than the home-care alternative.
According to the comptroller’s report, no more than 8 percent of a family’s income can go toward child care for the care to be considered affordable.
In response to the crisis, the comptroller’s office created NYC Under 3, a plan to expand affordable child care to families across the city.
Legislation related to NYC Under 3 is expected to be introduced by Assemblywoman Latrice Walker and state Senators Brad Hoylman and Jessica Ramos, who represents three of the four Queens neighborhoods most affected by the crisis.
“As parents, we know how hard it can be to find affordable, high-quality child care,” said Ramos. “It should never be an impediment to entering the workforce.”
The comptroller’s office says NYC Under 3 addresses the lack of availability, affordability and quality of child care in the city.
The proposal would include a sliding-scale payment for child care based on family income.
The program would be paid for by a payroll tax on New York City employers with payrolls totaling $2.5 million or more, excluding about 95 percent of employers in the city.