Speaker Christine C. Quinn:
“The EarlyLearn provider contracts announced by the Administration for Children’s Services has unacceptable changes to the City’s publicly funded child care system. While the City Council is in full agreement with the goal of enriching early childhood education, the implementation and funding of EarlyLearn is deeply flawed.
The EarlyLearn contracts have 6,500 fewer spots – a 13 percent cut for subsidized child care. This reduction will have a devastating impact on the thousands of children and families who will no longer have access to vital early education opportunities and will be forced to scramble for alternative child care.
While child care employees are charged with the vital task of caring for our children, they are already amongst the lowest paid workers in the city, earning an average salary of just $27,000 a year. These EarlyLearn Contracts will only place further pressure on already vulnerable individuals.
The overall loss in child care capacity means thousands of child care employees risk losing their jobs, health insurance and other benefits. Additionally, providers will be expected to cover the costs of health insurance and pension contributions for child care workers that have historically been paid for separately.
Since the original EarlyLearn Request for Proposals (RFP) were first released last May, the Council has vocalized its many concerns about troubling aspects of the program such as the targeting of funds by zip code. Low-income families will now be deprived childcare simply because they live in a mixed-income neighborhood.
The EarlyLearn RFP’s also place a burdensome 6.7 percent provider contribution on providers, and we urge the administration to show flexibility with providers on this provision.
As the childcare system is “aged-down,” the City Council will closely monitor EarlyLearn’s implementation to ensure that 4 –year olds will have a place to go – either by staying in day care settings or by finding seats in Universal Pre-Kindergarten classrooms – without major disruptions.
As we continue to negotiate the budget over the coming weeks, the Council will fight to make sure as many working families as possible have access to quality childcare. The welfare of our children is not a fight the City Council is prepared to lose.”
General Welfare Chair Annabel Palma:
“The Council had publicly requested that the Administration address what we saw as a number of flaws in the EarlyLearn RFP. Unfortunately, our concerns were left unanswered and today entire child care system is at a crossroads. Access to child care is critical to working families and, in this tenuous economy, it is crucial that these services remain available for as many families as possible. I look forward to working with the Administration to make EarlyLearn the childcare program our families and childcare workers deserve.”
Finance Committee Chair Domenic M. Recchia, Jr.:
“In the midst of a weak economy, families are saddled with several financial burdens but childcare should not be one of them. There are numerous components of the Early Learn program that are alarming. The prospect that many children may be displaced as a result of Early Learn is devastating. Additionally, imposing further expenses onto providers could result in them having to close their doors. Quality childcare made available to hardworking New Yorkers is an investment in our future and we need to ensure that this program is adequately serving the stakeholders – children, family, and childcare workers. I look forward to a thoughtful discussion with Mayor Bloomberg to ensure Early Learn is designed with the best intentions in mind for our city’s most vulnerable.”