Last month researchers, developers, academics, and cooperators got together to discuss the following question: how can we use success stories to build out childcare cooperatives as a solution to the problems in NYC? The convening centered around a report done by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Communities, the Democracy at Work Institute, and the ICA Group.
According to this research, 52% of low income families in NYC are in need of subsidized childcare, and only 1 out of every 4 of these families are actually accessing these programs (the most common of which are Early Learn, Universal Pre K, Head Start, and Family Child Care).
- Some of these programs are seasonal; for example, Universal Pre K only runs until June.
- Costs remain between $16,000 and $21,00 per year per child; with inadequate government reimbursement, many New Yorkers (including childcare workers themselves) cannot afford childcare
- High worker turnover (25%-50%) in an industry that is part time for most workers
- Low wages, with the average childcare worker making $12 an hour in NYC, combined with lack of benefits
- Inadequate training
- Lack of access to space for child care centers, due to both stringent restrictions for what spaces can be used for childcare centers as well as rising rent costs due to gentrification
The solution? Cooperation in childcare!
- High worker turnover can be mitigated or solved by cooperatives, e.g. Cooperative Home Care Associates boasts a turnover rate 25% lower than the average
- Increased access to benefits, e.g. Child Space in Philadelphia reduces the cost of child care for their workers by 80%
- Higher wages, e.g. Beyond Care in New York manages to pay a living wage of $15 an hour to their workers
However, worker-owned childcare cooperatives are one piece of a larger solidarity economy solution. Aside from worker cooperatives, we can and should look to other cooperative structures of childcare. Ed Yaker of Amalgamated Houses spoke to the ways in which his housing cooperative has been providing childcare since 1928, despite not having a worker-owner structure. Given the immense amount of space many housing co-ops—HDFCs and Mitchell Lamas like Amalgamated—forging relationships with housing cooperatives in the city can prove beneficial in building out cooperation within the sector of childcare. Other non-worker-owned cooperative structures for childcare include babysitting clubs and cooperative schools. So, while NYC would certainly benefit from creating more worker-owned childcare cooperatives, there is even more space for uplifting the needs of parents around the city when we look across sectors.