April 25, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Executive Director Raglan George Jr. of AFSCME DC 1707 has been marching outside City Hall weekly since the city’s EarlyLearn educational program took effect in October. This time he was joined by multiple labor leaders, pols, mayoral hopefuls, parents, advocates and children. George Jr. said the city has to establish baseline funding in the budget to support early childhood education, while others said the next mayor has to eliminate EarlyLearn on their first day in office. Watch Video
The union represents childcare workers in both daycare and Head Start centers. According to the union, EarlyLearn has caused the dismissal of over 1,000 members because providers are required by EarlyLearn to pay up to $31 million to cover the cost of care, thereby placing a heavy financial burden on non-profit providers.
The union also says that the city’s poorest children are being denied affordable day care because a formula being used by the Administration for Children’s Services to identify the neediest children by zip codes where wealthier residents also reside is obfuscating neighborhoods’ real needs.
The city’s Independent Budget Office issued a brief in December 2012 to evaluate EarlyLearn’s early impacts and notes that the availability of child care slots is trending downwards for families who are not receiving public assistance.
“Under current plans, the number of slots under contract with the city and available for children in low-income families would fall about 3,000 below the fiscal year 2012 level next year to about 46,000,” which is below the 2006 average of nearly 60,000 slots for center-based, family and group family and informal settings.
The report buttresses George Jr.’s call for baseline funding because it also notes that traditional funding for early childhood education on a one-year basis is threatening the overall system.
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