March 16, 2011
By Stephanie West
Blasting the City’s proposal to slash 16,500 child care slots as “a cynical, devastating blow to children, working parents and the well being of future generations,” Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer on Friday March 11th demanded that the City “take full responsibility for the chaos that will be caused by these cuts, and help vulnerable New York families navigate the difficult road ahead.” The Manhattan Borough President was joined by a coalition of parents, advocates and labor leaders.
The proposed cuts will eliminate roughly one third of the City’s subsidized child care slots and impact some of New York’s most vulnerable children those enrolled in both full time, center based programs, as well as those entrusted to the care of home based providers. City officials claim these cuts will yield $75 million in savings, but Stringer said the social and psychological costs created by such sweeping cutbacks would cost New York City far more in the long run.
“How do we put a price tag on the trauma that working families experience when children lose day care slots and parents are forced to leave work to take care of them?” said Stringer, flanked by affected families, day care workers and advocates. “We all lose when kids from low income backgrounds are denied access to the crucial educational bridge that day care offers, so they are ready to start Kindergarten on day one”
New York sent notices to 11,000 impacted families in February, informing them that their day care subsidies had been terminated. But the convoluted information given to these families about day care alternatives, Stringer said in a letter John B. Mattingly, Commissioner for ACS, “has fallen woefully short” in providing meaningful assistance.
The Borough President demanded that the City “try to help the families it has cut off, instead of insulting them with a blizzard of bureaucratic procedures. It is an utter disgrace to leave these families out in the cold, giving them no guidance in trying to figure out their next steps. Navigating this system would be a challenge for those of us with years of experience working in government. For others, it is a daunting task.”
“It is unreasonable for the City of New York to strangle these centers and classrooms,” said District Council Executive Director Raglan George, Jr. Mr. George then said that seats for toddlers remain in demand even the centers slated for closure, where the admissions procedure has been thwarted by Administration. “The cost of public day care is covered,” he said. “There is no shortage of need for this service. The City admits that only 27% of eligible working families have access to this safe, affordable and quality day care. We have to question the Bloomberg Administration’s priorities when it comes to children and toddlers.”