April 17, 2012
By Marc Bussanich, LaborPress City Reporter
As the deadline for the City’s FY 2013 budget fast approaches, once again advocates for children services and union members who work in day care and Head Start centers stood on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday, April 17 calling on Mayor Bloomberg to not cut child care and after-school programs for 47,000 children.
According to the Campaign for Children, a partnership of The Emergency Coalition to Save Child Care and the NYC Youth Alliance, the Mayor’s proposal to eliminate 47,000 slots in this year’s budget would net a 61.1 percent reduction of available slots since 2009
Some elected officials stood with the organization to say that they would not vote for a budget that includes cuts to children services. The services are vital to low-income families as they provide a viable economic alternative for day care they otherwise could not afford and they also provide educational enhancement for their children.
According to one parent at the press conference, the East River Child Development Center prepared her five-year old for kindergarten where he excelled.
“He’s now in an after-school program where he learns the arts, participates in sports and receives academic enrichment. Early child care and after-school programs are integral to our community.”
Another parent said that his daughter attends the Beacon Program in Flushing and wouldn’t know what to do if his daughter couldn’t attend because of the proposed cuts.
“They should be adding more Beacon Programs, not cutting them.”
The parent also noted that his daughter has been going to the program since she was six years old where she exercises every day and interacts with other, diverse children.
“I don’t understand why Mayor Bloomberg would cut these programs,” questioned the parent.
Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito reminded the audience of the historical significance of the program. “The Beacon Program was started under former mayor David Dinkins at a time when there was a lot of violence in our communities. The programs created safe havens that are no less real today.”
Council Member Jumaane Williams said that he’s getting tired of having to fight again to restore services when the City should be adding more services. He also noted that last year, when he again had to stand on City Hall’s steps to prevent childcare cuts, he said at the time there was a correlation between childcare cuts and an uptick in youth violence.
“I asked the Commissioner of DYCD [Department of Youth & Community Development] if she met with the Commissioner of NYPD to discuss the public safety impact of the cuts and she replied, ‘No.’”
Williams told LaborPress in an interview that there is no single report that shows a correlation between childcare cuts and an increase in youth violence, but said “if you look at any kind of academic research, we know that problems occur after school. There’s definitely a correlation and spike between criminal activity and time after school when kids have nothing to do.”
Raglan George, Jr., Executive Director of DC 1707, whose roughly 6,000 out of 20,000 members work in day care centers, said that if the proposed cuts go through, his members could lose their jobs and that the union would have to embark on another organizing campaign to organize the workers who most likely will have to work for the for-profits providing childcare services that could potentially replace existing programs as a result of the EarlyLearn RFP. firstname.lastname@example.org