On average, New Yorkers working in child care are making less than $36,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state has made some investments to extend child care assistance to families in need, but advocates and some state lawmakers say it’s progress that means nothing if the child care workforce itself isn’t adequately supported.

A coalition of parents, child care providers and state lawmakers gathered in Albany on Tuesday.

“If we want to move New York forward, if we want to end out migration, it’s very simple math,” state Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages said. “Fund child care.”

The group highlighted hardships facing New Yorkers working in child care, including an average hourly wage of less than $17, lower than 96% of all other jobs in the state.

“The value is not there,” said Alicia Marks, a child care provider from Suffolk County. “We keep getting higher regulations, more rules, more guidelines and more unfunded mandates.”

To help remedy these issues, The Empire State Campaign for Child Care outlines a number of priorities, including a permanent $1.2 billion state child care fund, which would help ensure workers a teaching wage. The group is also advocating for legislation that move towards universal child care.

Some of the legislation includes measures that would ensure immigrant children care, regardless of their immigration status; and enacting a presumptive eligibility statewide, which would expedite the delivery of child care assistance to families snagged by red tape.

“We know child care is the building block for all,” said state Assemblywoman Sarah Clarke. “It helps our children, it helps our families, it helps our economy.”

Some at the rally say New York can’t “under-invest” in child care and believe there are few investments that offer a greater public return. According to the Minnesota Federal Reserve, that could be as high as 18%.