Mayor Eric Adams launched a new child care assistance program for undocumented families who do not qualify for federally subsidized child care by January 2023. The city expects to support at least 600 children over the next six months.
“Every child deserves the chance to succeed, no matter where they come from, and as a city of immigrants, we know that the American dream begins here in New York City,” Adams said in a statement. “Overcoming obstacles in a new city and a new country are difficult, and combining those issues with a lack of child care can prevent parents and families from achieving the dream they so desperately set out to achieve.”
Adams said Promise NYC will ease the stress on undocumented parents supporting their children.
In it historic two-day supervision hearings Convened by the City Council to review the current handling of the immigration crisis on December 19 and 20, city officials and community groups testified on how to better serve “New York’s newest neighbors.” The timing of the Promise NYC child care program will certainly help newly arrived asylum seekers find stable housing and employment, but it has been a long overdue change for many.
“Prior to this announcement, undocumented children did not have access to child care, which means they were excluded from some of the city’s early childhood education programs,” said Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children of New York. “It predates this influx of asylum seekers.”
Undocumented and other children were not eligible for existing programs because of restrictive federal immigration rules, namely the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, Levine said.
A Brookings Report stated that the 1996 law was intended to “help families in need, combat welfare dependency by promoting work and marriage, reduce out-of-wedlock births, and encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.” ”. This was seen as a Republican effort to combat the rising rate of “children are growing up in poor single-parent families” in the 1990s.
At the time, there was a rise in out-of-wedlock and teen births, and many thought the law would encourage families to leave welfare to become employees and marry into traditional two-parent households, Brookings said. Eligibility for these federally funded benefits was also limited to US citizens, lawful permanent residents, and others with “qualified” immigration status.
“While some state and federal child care programs are out of reach for many immigrant families with undocumented children, New York City will leave no child behind. The historic launch of Promise NYC allows our city to continue advancing the promise of a better future for all New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status,” said Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro. “As the city works to support newly arrived asylum seekers, Promise NYC will have a positive impact on their ability to pursue meaningful opportunities so they can improve their lives in their new homes.”
Councilwoman Shahana Hanif, chair of the immigration committee, added that the city committed a record $10 million to fund childcare for undocumented New Yorkers. “Promise NYC is a historic investment in our immigrant communities with transformative potential,” said Hanif. “Providing free child care to working-class immigrant families in our city is really building a social infrastructure rooted in care and compassion.”
The Department of Children’s Services is contracting with four community organizations to serve immigrant communities and families: Center for Family Life in Brooklyn, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation in the Bronx and Manhattan, The Hive in Staten Island, and Chinese American Planning Council in Queens. . .
When contacted for comment, the organizations said they had not yet had much contact with families and none were available to discuss their childcare experiences.
Ariama C. Long is a staff member of Report for America and a political writer for the Amsterdam News. Her donation to match our RFA grant helps her keep writing stories like this; Consider making a tax-deductible donation of any amount today by visiting: https://bit.ly/amnews1