Are Fewer Child Care Vouchers for 4-Year-Olds Being Used Because of the Expansion of Full-Day Pre-K?

Under federal and state law, families with young children receiving cash assistance and participating in work or training programs are guaranteed vouchers to pay for their choice of child care providers. A limited number of vouchers are also available to low-income working families. As the de Blasio Administration moved to vastly expand the number of full-day pre-kindergarten slots available for the city’s children, many expected that there would be a corresponding decline in the use of child care vouchers for 4-year-olds.

  • From October 2013 through October 2015 the number of children enrolled in full-day pre-k more than tripled, rising from 19,490 to 69,090.
  • Over the same period, the use of of full-time vouchers for the care of 4-year-olds fell. For the children of cash assistance families the decrease was only 9.5 percent, from 6,128 to 5,549.
  • For children in low-income families the number fell by 23.3 percent, from 1,395 to 1,070.
  • Together, these changes mean that as of fall 2015, 6,619 children were still in voucher-funded full-time child care rather than Department of Education pre-k classes.
  • The relatively small number of 4-year-olds in part-time voucher child care increased over the two years by 36.9 percent, from 279 to 382. It is possible that many of them were attending pre-k classes and using the vouchers for after-school care.


Parents who use child care vouchers can choose among a wide variety of child care providers including informal care, family child care, and center-based care. Not all of these providers offer the educational elements available to children enrolled in the Department of Education’s pre-k programs.

 

Prepared by Paul Lopatto
 New York City Independent Budget Office

Print version available here.

SOURCES: Department of Education; Administration for Children’s Services
NOTES: Pre-k enrollment is as of October of each year. The voucher numbers for school years 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 are averages for September through June. The voucher numbers for 2015-2016 are averages for September through December.

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