Brooklyn Parents Camp Out On The Street Overnight For Daycare Spots

by Meredith Bland

No, we definitely don’t need childcare reform. Nope.

Trying to get a spot in daycare for your kids can be — for many parents — an insane process. From pregnant women putting themselves on waitlists during their first trimester to sleeping on the streets to ensure a good place in line, it can be incredibly difficult for parents to secure the childcare they will need in order to go back to work and support those same children. We got an incredible visual of this madness last week outside a YMCA in Brooklyn, New York.

Parents started lining up with folding chairs, tents, toddlers, and lots of snacks at 11 a.m. on Thursday to snag one of the open slots at the Greenpoint YMCA’s Early Learning Program. Sign-up to get on the waitlist for September 2018 would open up 21 hours later, at 8 a.m. on Friday.

Parents told local news reporters that the program was in high demand due to its quality and affordability (in New York, “affordability” means $1100 a month for a two-year-old to attend the preschool Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. — many programs cost twice that amount.)

Some of these parents got lucky, however — late Thursday, YMCA staff gave out numbers to some of the first people in line so that they would be able to go home overnight without losing their spots.

When someone is considered lucky because they don’t have to sleep on the street to get affordable childcare, there’s a problem with the system.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a “3-k For All” plan, which would make full-day preschool free for all three-year-olds in the city. New York City already offers free pre-k for most four-year-olds, a program that started last year. Some have expressed concern over “3-K For All,” citing difficulties in finding enough teachers to meet the demand and worries over how the city will get the $700 million needed to launch the program within the next four years.

In the meantime, parents in need of daycare for their two-year-olds that costs less than $24,000 a year better stock up on their camping gear.