New York, NY – New York City Council Members representing the four districts that comprise Upper Manhattan held a unity rally on Thursday evening to protest the budget cuts to child care centers being proposed in Mayor Bloomberg’s Fiscal Year 2012 Executive Budget. Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Assistant Deputy Majority Leader Inez E. Dickens, Education Committee Chairman Robert Jackson, and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez joined together with Upper Manhattan-based day care providers, parents, children and advocates to highlight the disproportionate impact of these cuts on the communities of East, Central and West Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood and to call for a full restoration of child care services. The rally was held at Colonel Young Park in Harlem.
“The cuts being proposed to the city’s child care system will have a destructive impact in our communities,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “We must continue to pressure the administration, and stand firm in our commitment to maintaining these critical services for our working families. The fight to save our child care cannot and should not rest on the City Council alone. We will continue to push back until the Mayor realizes this balancing the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable is not an option.”
Though the Mayor recently announced a plan that he said would restore the funding for child care, there is still deep concern that thousands of families will find themselves without access to these vital services. Only $40 million of the $91 million in proposed cuts have been restored, saving 4,400 of the 16,000 slots on the chopping block in the Fiscal Year 2012 Preliminary Budget. The Mayor’s current plan hinges on offering 10,500 school-age children the option of enrolling in DYCD’s Out-of-School Time (OST) afterschool program, which itself has experienced severe cuts in recent years and does not address the needs of those working parents that require child care during traditional working hours.
Council Member Inez E. Dickens’ district, which includes Central Harlem, is slated to face the highest number of child care classroom cuts. The Council Member vowed to fight for full restoration of every dime needed to restore these cuts that will devastate day care centers and struggling, overburdened families for which day care is a necessity. Council Member Dickens stated, “Day care provides our children a nurturing educational and social environment. Moreover, is a safe haven for our young who are our future.” The Council Member continued declaring, “We must fight for full restoration of day care funding because balancing the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens is simply unacceptable.”
The communities of Upper Manhattan are disproportionately impacted by the proposed cuts as nearly 80% of the scheduled slot reductions in the borough of Manhattan are set to occur in these council districts. Day care services represent a critical investment in our young people’s future, as it increases access to early childhood education. It also helps boost our local economies, by enabling parents to remain employed. According to the Emergency Coalition to Save Childcare, every dollar cut from child care leads to a $1.86 loss for the community.
“All of the parents, children, and day care providers here today are the backbone of this movement to defend city services, and together with the City Council, they create a voice that cannot be ignored,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “The cuts the Mayor is proposing represent such a small portion of the budget, but will create an enormous negative impact on our communities. It’s time the mayor listens to our communities and to common sense, and stops these cuts.”
“The Mayor’s plan only succeeds to keep families in Northern Manhattan in poverty with no sustainable future,” said Council Member Robert Jackson, Chair of the Education Committee. “This nonsensical cut to child care slots will threaten to cut a big hole in the safety net that working families depend on for survival. Without this critical service, most of our families won’t be able to maintain employment or continue their education. What’s more, early childhood services are one of the most fundamental building blocks to giving our children a successful start in early learning. I will not let my families fall through the cracks! The City Council must push back!”
Today’s rally is part of a string of public events where day care providers, families and elected officials have united against the proposed cuts to child care. The Chair of the New York City Council’s General Welfare Committee, Council Member Annabel Palma and the Emergency Coalition to Save Child Care have continued to propel this issue to the forefront of discussions on the budget. Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Finance Chair Domenic Recchia have also indicated that child care would continue to be a priority of the City Council as we head into budget negotiations with the administration.
“There are more questions than answers at this point, especially for those low income and working families who rely on these programs,” said Council Member Annabel Palma, Chair of the General Welfare Committee. “More conversations and details are needed since it is unclear what the proposed plan’s impact will be on existing out-of-school programs, providers, child care centers and classrooms.”