New York – With the Mayor’s preliminary budget proposing to cut more than 47,000 children from child care and after-school programs, Staten Island parents, children, advocates and elected officials rallied Wednesday to urge Mayor Bloomberg to fully fund child care and after-school in his Executive Budget and stop their beloved Beacon program from being forced to shut its doors in July.
Earlier this month, the Staten Island Jewish Community Center's Beacon at Tottenville High School was notified by the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) that, due to budget cuts, it would be forced to close on July 1. Tottenville High School’s Beacon serves more than 1,300 people from the Staten Island Community, and is one of seven nationally-celebrated youth programs that are the first victims of the Mayor’s cuts to child care and after-school programs.
At the rally, Campaign for Children released a report detailing the devastating impact of the Mayor’s cuts on Staten Island children and families. Staten Island families have already experienced reductions in child care and after-school programs, and the Mayor’s newest cuts will further reduce the options available to working families.
- Child care: In the past three years, the number of children from low-income working families receiving child care subsidies on Staten Island has declined by nearly 27 percent. The citywide cut of 15,900 child care subsidies will further decrease the availability of child care for low-income working families on Staten Island.
- After-school: The Out of School Time (OST) after-school program – which has already shrunk by more than 35,000 youth citywide since 2009 – is facing a 32 percent reduction in programs on Staten Island, going from 19 programs to 13 programs for the entire borough.
“The award-winning Tottenville High School Beacon program –the only one on Staten Island – is an essential part of the efforts of this community to provide positive programs and role models for our youth,” David Sorkin, Executive Director, Staten Island Jewish Community Center. “If the Mayor’s budget cuts to child care and after-school are enacted and our Beacon is forced to close, the void it will leave in the lives of these young people will be devastating to them and the community.” “With the announcement that Tottenville High School’s Beacon will be forced to close in July, Staten Island is already seeing the devastating effects of the Bloomberg administration’s cuts to child care and after-school programs,” said Oksana Beytulla, owner of Magic Day Care, a licensed Group Family Child Care Program. “The children of Staten Island deserve access to the child care and after-school programs that provide them with critical educational opportunities and allow their hard-working parents to keep their jobs.”
Instituted in 1991, NYC’s 80 Beacon programs serve communities’ needs utilizing a neighborhood-based approach. Beacons operate after school, on weekends, school holidays, and throughout the summer, serving mainly middle school youth. The Beacon model is recognized nationally as a premier program for positive youth development and has been replicated in over 10 cities around the country. Beacon programs work to prevent drop-outs in high school by focusing on academic enhancement, life skills, career awareness/school-to-work transition, civic engagement/community building, recreation/health and fitness and culture/art. Each Beacon Program serves over 800 children, youth and adults.
“When my daughter is at her after-school program, she gets opportunities that I can’t afford to give her otherwise – academic support, creative arts, and other activities that enrich her education,” said Diane Colon, the parent of a child who attends The Children’s Aid Society’s Goodhue Center. “If our after-school program is forced to close, I won’t have a safe, educational place for my daughter to be. I don’t know what I would do.”
“As we go through the budget process, I will do all that I can to restore the cuts to after school programs and prevent the closure of the Tottenville High School Beacon program that is vital to youth on Staten Island,” said Council Member Vincent Ignizio. "At a time when the proposed Fiscal Year 2013 Education Budget includes $4.5 million in consulting contracts – a stunning 45 percent of the City’s total in consulting contracts – when it comes to the tried and true academic enrichment programs that we know work for our children, such as our Out of School Time (OST), Beacon After-School and daycare programs, the mayor's money train ends. For our children, there is no room on the train. For their hard working parents, who can ill-afford expensive alternatives to these programs, the train is full. Instead of putting our children on a train ride to success and prosperity, the mayor's leadership and policies have derailed our children's path towards a solid education, creating an education train wreck. We refuse to allow this to happen and urge the mayor to leave this funding intact for our children!" said Council Member Debi Rose (49th District/Staten Island).
"The budget process is a long one and we are still at the beginning of it. I will work with Councilman Ignizio and advocates throughout this process to impart to my colleagues on the Budget Negotiating Team the importance of the Tottenville High School Beacon Program and why we must act to preserve it,” said Council Member and Republican Minority Leader James Oddo.
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.
ACS Child Care Snapshots, January 2009 & January 2012.
Fiscal Year enrollment data contained in the Mayor’s Management Reports.
DYCD Request for Proposals for the Out of School Time system.