Bronx daycare owner Angela Salas suspects it’s no coincidence that ever since New York City’s free preschool program for three-year-olds arrived in her borough, her popular home-based child-care program has struggled.
It’s not for a lack of demand, says Salas: Her family daycare is as sought after as ever, with parents paying up to $385 a week. But with new, free public preschool available for three- and four-year-olds less than two miles away, the kids enrolling in Salas’s home-based program are now almost all very young. This makes for a costly business, as state regulation requires much heavier staffing for babies and toddlers than it does for older children. “I need to keep the three-year-olds in order to survive,” says Salas.