June 18, 2012
Around Town – By Neal Tepel
City Comptroller John C. Liu has called on the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) to reassess its EarlyLearn NYC Request for Proposal (RFP) process. While according to the Mayor, the EarlyLearn NYC initiative was designed to merge childcare and early education into a single, seamless system. The EarlyLearn Request for Proposal process has very disruptive to city day care and early education services. The EarlyLearn selection process is causing the closing of many excellent and effective day care centers throughout the city.
In May, following an RFP process, ACS announced new contract awards for the EarlyLearn NYC initiative which was scheduled to begin on September 1, 2012. Following an outcry from numerous well-established childcare vendors who responded to the agency’s RFP process, ACS began submitting requests to the Comptroller’s office to extend the existing childcare contracts scheduled to expire this month. These contracts have now been extended for up to one year.
“While the EarlyLearn NYC initiative may be well intentioned, the RFP process has been, by too many accounts, a disaster. It has also caused a tremendous amount of unnecessary anxiety for parents, children, and service providers,” Comptroller Liu said. “It is unfair to put parents through the stress of not knowing how long the doors of their childcare provider will remain open. ACS should use the twelve months provided under the contract extensions to conduct a comprehensive review of the EarlyLearn NYC RFP.”
“City Hall is taking some of the best programs in the country and throwing them out the window. You have to fear for our kids’ futures if we lose centers like these,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “If this were really about the merits, the City would have never made these decisions. The Comptroller is absolutely right to extend these contracts given the serious concerns with this RFP process.”
“Several centers in my district will be closed as a result of the EarlyLearn RFP and many others have been significantly downsized as slots have been diverted to lesser known centers in and around the community,” said City Council Member Letitia James. “The citywide effect is even more detrimental. Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed city budget slashes more than 47,000 low-income and working-class children from subsidized daycare, Head Start and afterschool programs. About 6,500 children will be left without a slot, come this November as a result of Early Learn. I believe something is extremely wrong with this picture and it is our time now to stand up and say enough is enough.”
The EarlyLearn fiasco causing the elimination of education programs for thousands of young children will be a legacy of Mayor Bloomberg along with the CityTime scandal. This disaster caused by City Hall is now affecting over 40,000 children, their parents, thousands of educators as well as communities in need throughout the city. Since day care centers provide safe educational services for young children from 8am to 5pm, the closing of centers will force many single parents to stop working and enter public assistance. What a mess.