Queens parents, advocates and elected officials rallied together on Thursday, April 19 to urge Mayor Michael Bloomberg to fully fund child care and after-school in his Executive Budget.
At Thursday’s rally at Queens Borough Hall, Campaign for Children released a report detailing the devastating impact Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed cuts would have on Queens children and working families. The mayor’s preliminary budget is proposing to cut more than 47,000 children from child care and after-school programs.
Queens residents have already experienced steep reductions in subsidized child care and after-school programs, and the mayor’s newest cuts will further reduce the number of safe and affordable child care options available to working families. Indeed, the mayor already announced last month that the city will close two Queens Beacon after-school programs in July, which together serve more than 2,400 Queens residents each year.
·Child Care: In the past three years, the number of children from low-income working families receiving child care subsidies in Queens has declined by nearly 23 percent. The citywide cut of 15,900 child care subsidies will further decrease the availability of child care for low-income working families in the Bronx.
·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 39 percent reduction in programs in Queens, going from 83 programs to just 51 programs for the entire borough.
“When I leave my son at child care, I know he’s learning and getting to participate in arts and activities that will help him succeed in school,” said Lily Mamonov from Forest Hills, Queens. “If I lose child care, how will I know my son is safe and getting the education he needs while I’m at work? If I don’t have that option, I can’t keep my job – and that’s not good for him, for my family, or for our community.”
“Under the mayor’s proposed budget, thousands of young people in Queens will be left without educational, enriching afterschool programs that help them succeed in school and thousands of parents will be forced to scramble to find safe, affordable childcare while they work,” said David Slotnick, program director of Youth & Camping Services at the Samuel Field Y.
“These cuts will be devastating to the working families of Queens who rely on Beacon Programs to operate during school days, school holidays and summers. The Beacon programs have been very successful in addressing the needs of the community by ensuring that at-risk youth and youth that weren’t achieving their potential have a safe haven where they can gain successful outcomes and we are deeply concerned that the loss of these programs will destabilize neighborhoods and erode all of the important accomplishments that now characterize them,” said Slotnick.
“Child care and after-school programs provide children with critical educational opportunities that pave the way for future success,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marhshall, herself a former early childhood teacher. “Youngsters who attend these programs do better in school, are more likely to graduate and have lower incidents of violence, drug abuse and teen pregnancy.”
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 percent 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.