Grants will help low-income New Yorkers obtain affordable child care services and support research aimed at structurally improving New York City’s child care voucher system

More than 100,000 children ages 0-3 are living below the poverty line in New York City

Contact: Crystal Cooper at

New York, NY – Robin Hood, New York City’s largest poverty-fighting philanthropy, alongside Mayor Eric Adams and First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright today announced three new grants that will expand access to the City’s child care voucher program, the latest development in the Child Care Quality and Innovation Initiative, a $100 million public-private partnership to improve access to high-quality, affordable child care. Unveiled last year, the initiative aims to retool the city’s child care system to give every child the opportunity for a strong start in life, citing strong research that the most impactful poverty-fighting investment we can make starts at infancy.

Robin Hood has issued the initiative’s first wave of grants, in partnership with New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the agency responsible for administering the largest share of child care vouchers that allow underserved New York to enroll in quality child care services. The grants, totaling nearly $3 million, will help thousands of newly eligible families access the child care vouchers they are entitled to, more effectively facilitate enrollment into the City’s existing child care programs, and fund research into structural changes that will improve the City’s child care system both for families and those who work in the sector.

“Families in New York City are experiencing an affordability crisis, and one of its main drivers is the exorbitant cost of child care–which threatens to plunge New Yorkers with low incomes deeper into poverty. Government policy has played a huge role in expanding voucher eligibility and city agencies are directly connected to the families we need to reach. Through the power of philanthropy, we can work faster and more nimbly to build a child care system that works,” said Richard R. Buery Jr., CEO of Robin Hood. “I’m proud to join forces with the Adams Administration to ensure affordable, high-quality child care is accessible to all New Yorkers while also making sure overstretched child care centers are fully-staffed and able to deliver support to the thousands of families who count on them. Through this funding, we’re investing in our families, our workforce, and our economy and making major progress in our fight to break the cycle of poverty.”

“There was an old saying that ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ but, today, it takes a city,” said Mayor Adams. “With our partner Robin Hood, we are reimagining a child care system that’s prepared to raise the children of our city. These grants will bring New York City closer to making sure that every child has access to the building blocks needed to reach their full potential.”

“We unlock the full potential of our city when we break down siloes and collaborate across sectors,” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. “The Adams administration and Robin Hood’s collaboration highlights the endless possibilities for innovation when government and nonprofit come together. Through this muti-year effort and initial investment, families will experience a more equitable and higher quality child care system.”

“Securing affordable child care is life changing for many families in NYC,” said ACS Commissioner Jess Dannhauser. “We are grateful to the Robin Hood Foundation for investing in projects that will advance our understanding of families’ needs; improve our service to families and providers; and increase access to affordable care through child care subsidies for children in historically underserved communities. By meeting families where they are and addressing their barriers to access, it is our hope that more and more NYC families will have the resources and support they need to thrive.”

Research shows that having a child is one of the life events most closely associated with falling into poverty, with a closer connection than losing a job. The high cost of child care is likely a main driver of this phenomenon. In New York State, child care costs double the price of attending the State University of New York (SUNY) and is unaffordable for over half of families in New York City. The cost of care is driven up by the lack of options in many neighborhoods, with 70 percent of children in New York City under the age of four living in “child care deserts” that lack enough spots, often because of the low wages paid to child care workers due to low reimbursement rates from state child care vouchers. Shockingly, 1-in-4 child care workers in New York City live in poverty — the overwhelming majority of them women of color.

In response, Robin Hood worked with legislators during the 2022 legislative session in Albany, as well as child care providers, advocates, and business leaders, to successfully push lawmakers to include a historic $7 billion investment in child care vouchers in the FY23 state budget. This nation-leading expansion of child care dramatically increased the number of New York families eligible for vouchers while boosting the rate that the state pays providers that accept vouchers. As a result, more families will be able to access affordable, high-quality child care — allowing more parents to re-enter the workforce — and child care workers will be able to earn higher wages, increasing the number of available seats for families. All of this will help alleviate poverty in the immediate term, while providing children with the early education they need for future success.

The Child Care Quality and Innovation Initiative builds on this work by funding programs that help New Yorkers access affordable, high-quality child care in the short term and identifying proven innovations that aim to dramatically improve child care in the five boroughs. The grants announced today will help thousands of families across New York City access vouchers so they can afford the high-quality, affordable child care they are currently entitled to receive. The newly announced grants will:

Educate voucher-eligible families and connect them to child care: New York State’s historic child care investment presents a unique opportunity to expand access to child care in New York City. Over the last year, ACS made progress in increasing voucher enrollment for low-income families by more than 160 percent, enrolling between 1,000 and 1,700 new children each month. However, many families remain unaware of this substantial new funding or that they are eligible for assistance.

Robin Hood is investing nearly $3 million in funds over the next 18 months, enabling ACS to increase its outreach and enrollment capacity through contracting with trusted, front-line community-based service providers. Community partners will educate New Yorkers about the child care voucher program and help connect 6,000 families to child care in the 17 highest-need neighborhoods, which include Harlem, Washington Heights/Inwood, Mott Haven, Parkchester, Bedford Stuyvesant and Brownsville. This investment will help ensure all state funding for child care vouchers is maximized.

Helping families navigate the child care voucher system: At the same time, ACS will work with experts on designing a new “Client Experience Unit” within the agency, which will support both families and child care providers navigating the child care voucher program. This Client Experience Unit will clear the way for families and child care providers to receive the services they deserve. Projects will include re-establishing a modern call center for quick inquiries and creating new teams to provide in-depth support for providers with pending enrollments and comprehensive assistance to families applying, recertifying, or enrolling in child care. The experts tasked with establishing this unit will be charged with cutting red tape and establishing new protocols, quality-improvement systems, KPIs, and a staff training plan based on customer service industry best practices. The Client Experience Unit ensures that all parts of the child care ecosystem are supported and efficiently functioning.

Studying the barriers families face to accessing care: Finally, external researchers will study barriers that families and providers currently face, with the goal of developing a data-driven report to guide ACS’ future revamp of child care vouchers in New York City. Based on anecdotal evidence, ACS and other experts believe that eligible families do not enroll in child care because of a combination of factors including a lack of providers in their neighborhood and not finding care that is available during the hours that are needed. Additionally, there may be barriers that prevent child care providers from accepting vouchers, such as low government payment rates or an unclear sign-up process. This grant will explore these potential roadblocks, among others, and help develop a plan that enables ACS to eliminate barriers to access.

In addition to the Child Care Quality and Innovation Initiative, momentum within the Adams Administration to fix NYC’s broken child care system continues as the City organizes to deploy billions of dollars in newly secured funding from New York State and launch a newly adopted tax abatement initiative for property owners to create more child care centers that will increase capacity.

As part of the Administration’s Blueprint for Child Care and Early Childhood Education in New York City, the city has invited families of all 36,000 children on the waitlist to apply for affordable and highly-subsidized child care. In addition, Mayor Adams announced the launch of MyCity, creating a simplified child care application to make city services more easily accessible to New Yorkers. Earlier this year, Mayor Adams announced the creation of the first-ever Office for Child Care and Early Childhood Education, founded in part through an $847,000 seeding grant from Robin Hood. The new office will lead strategy and coordinate planning among city agencies; foster innovation in partnership with families, providers, experts, and the private sector; and promote effective communication, policy advocacy, and public engagement.

In April, the Mayor hosted a child care summit with parents, providers, child care advocates, and agency officials to spotlight the city’s accomplishments with partners in the child care space and outline an all-hands-on-deck strategy in pursuit of high-quality, accessible child care for children, families, and providers across the five boroughs. The Administration has successfully reduced the amount that families receiving a subsidy must contribute. The average family pays just over $3.00 per week per child, a major decrease from $24.36 per week in May 2022.


About Robin Hood:

This year Robin Hood celebrates its 35th year of funding, supporting, and connecting New York’s most impactful community organizations at the forefront in the battle against poverty. We’re NYC’s largest local poverty-fighting philanthropy and since 1988, we’ve invested nearly $3 billion to elevate and fuel the permanent escape of New Yorkers from poverty. Last year, through grantmaking with 300+ community partners, we created pathways to opportunities out of poverty for more than 325,000 New Yorkers, and through our strategic partnerships on child care, child poverty, jobs, and living wages, we are scaling impact at a population level for the more than 1.5 million New Yorkers living in poverty. At Robin Hood, we believe your starting point in life should not define where you end up. To learn more about our work and impact, follow us on Twitter @RobinHoodNYC or go to

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