DOE Must Provide Child Care to the Essential Immigrant Workers Serving on Front Lines of COVID-19 Pandemic

New York, NY—Today, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) is opening 93 Regional Enrichment Centers to provide front-line workers with childcare to ensure their parents can continue to serve the city in this time of need. Unfortunately, the DOE's Regional Enrichment Center criteria is currently limited to health care workers, FDNY, NYPD, Office of Emergency Management, and some New York City Transit Authority roles, and the DOE has not provided clarity on how many available spaces, if any, will be accessible to children of other essential workers like grocery clerks, home healthcare workers, delivery and restaurant workers, and cleaners.

Additionally, the family eligibility survey provided by the DOE is only available in English. The DOE must translate this survey into at least the top nine languages in NYC, as is their policy for all critical parent communications, to ensure every eligible New Yorker is aware of and can access this crucial service.

The thousands of immigrant New Yorkers serving in the variety of functions and work spaces that Governor Cuomo defined as “essential" in his March 20, 2020 directive deserve to be included in the NYC DOE Regional Enrichment Centers eligibility guidelines. In response to the current eligibility limits on the 93 Regional Enrichment Centers, Kim Sykes, Director of Education Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition, issued the following statement:

“Essential cleaning staff, supermarket clerks, delivery workers, and other low-income immigrant New Yorkers are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, working around the clock to keep New York City safe, fed, and healthy. They must not be left out of the NYC Department of Education’s Regional Enrichment Centers.These New York families are being asked to serve their city without the child care and educational support they so desperately need. The DOE should update the eligibility requirements to ensure all essential workers have a safe place to bring their children as they keep New York City running.”


On March 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo directed that 100% of in-person non-essential works spaces must be closed by 8pm on March 22 in response to the COVID-19 emergency in New York State. In this directive, the Governor defined essential business operations for the state to include: grocery store workers and restaurant staff, home health care workers, cleaning, construction and food processing staff, and other crucial service positions often filled by immigrant community members.