New York – Hundreds of children, parents and providers filled City Hall Park today with a message to Mayor Bloomberg: don’t cut child care and after-school programs for 47,000 children. In a show of support, three City Council Caucuses – the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus; the Women’s Caucus; and the Progressive Caucus – released statements urging the Mayor to fully fund child care and after-school programs in his Executive Budget.
“The [Black, Latino and Asian Caucus] believes that by enacting these cuts, the Bloomberg Administration’s actions will, yet again, run counter to his own claim to a legacy of strengthening the system, ensuring college and career readiness for Black, Latino and Asian youth, and stabilizing the City’s economy,” said a statement from the City Council Black, Latino and Asian Caucus [read full statement HERE].
“These cuts will have severe ramifications, particularly for low-income, working mothers and their children,” said a statement from the City Council Women’s Caucus [read full statement HERE]. “We urge the Administration to fully fund the subsidized child care and after-school systems.”
“Substantially cutting child care and after-school programs flies in the face of the values of our Caucus, said a statement from the City Council Progressive Caucus [read full statement HERE]. “These cuts will leave low-income working parents who are striving to achieve economic stability with the untenable choice of quitting their jobs or potentially leaving their children in unsafe care while they work.”
The busloads of children and parents were joined by elected officials and advocates from the Campaign for Children, who kicked off the rally with a press conference calling on the Mayor to prioritize funding for child care and after-school programs in the budget.
“Without child care, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Nossha Norton, a Brooklyn Mother whose child goes to United Community Center’s child care program in East New York. “I won’t be able to keep my job and provide for my family. So many parents depend on this care. That’s why we came here today to send a message to the Mayor – don’t cut child care and after-school for 47,000 children!”
Today’s rally comes on the heels of the City Council’s response to the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget, in which Speaker Quinn and Finance Chair Recchia called the cuts to child care and after-school programs “unacceptable.” Earlier this month, more than 1,000 parents called Deputy Mayor Wolfson to urge him and other city leaders to prioritize child care and after-school funding in the budget.
“With my kids attending an after-school program, I know they’re safe and learning while I’m at work,” said Tajae Johnson, a working mother from Queensbridge whose children attend after school at the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House. “If their program is forced to close, what will my family do? Access to these programs helps me provide a better future for my kids.”
“We provide our community with safe, affordable and educational child care and after-school programs – programs that not only put children on the path to success, but allow parents to keep their jobs,” saidCarolyn McLaughlin, Executive Director of BronxWorks. “I know that times are tough, but why would the city want to deprive working families of the programs they rely on? I’m here to tell the Mayor that these cuts just don’t make sense.”
“Last year, the City Council made it a top priority to restore tens of millions of dollars for subsidized child care and after-school programs because we understood that these programs are a lifeline for working families and their children,” said Council Member Annabel Palma, Chair of the Council’s Committee on General Welfare. “Unfortunately, the Mayor doesn’t seem to get it and his Preliminary Budget, combined with the reforms laid out in the EarlyLearn and OST RFPs, would once again slash child care and after-school programs for nearly 50,000 children. Today, we stand together to tell the Mayor that we expect better for our children. I sincerely hope that he gets the message and works with the Council to produce a responsible budget that will prevent these devastating cuts.”
"The cuts to our after school programs are severe and truly justify the charge that City budget is being balanced on the back of our children,” said Council Member Lew Fidler, Chairman of the Youth Services Committee. We will be damaging the education of these kids. We will be creating a new generation of latch key kids, and if we have learned nothing else from history, we know that the pennies we save by these cuts will cost us dollars in police and criminal justice services next year. We have an obligation to make available good choices for kids, and if we don't it won't be entirely their fault when they make bad choices. We cannot pass a budget that does so many bad things to kids."
ABOUT THE CUTS
After years of cuts that have dramatically decreased working families’ access to children’s and youth services, the Mayor is once again proposing devastating cuts to both child care and after-school programs in his FY 2013 budget. The Mayor’s Preliminary Budget, coupled with changes from the EarlyLearn NYC and Out-of-school Time (OST) RFPs, would eliminate 15,900 child care slots and slash after-school program capacity for 31,800 children. All told, more than 47,000 children and their families will lose access to these essential programs. This is the fifth straight year that the Mayor has cut child care and after-school programs. Added to year after year of cuts, the Mayor’s latest proposal will result in 90,000 fewer children having access to these programs than in 2009 – a 61% decrease.
The Bloomberg Administration’s failure to fund these core services is a disturbing departure from its stated desire to make education reforms and economic development the Mayor’s top priorities and the foundation of his legacy. As the Mayor himself recently stated, “what happens after the final school bell of the day rings is as important to students as what goes on in the classrooms.” Both child care and after-school programs provide children with critical educational opportunities that pave the way for future success, and allow parents to maintain jobs and support their families while their children receive safe, affordable care.
The Mayor is taking notable steps to restructure the child care and after-school systems to increase the quality of the programs citywide – but is, at the same time, cutting funding significantly so that the programs will serve a fraction of the children.