By Stephanie West
December 22, 2010
More than a hundred people braved icy weather to protest the City’s continued cuts to day care programs and early education centers.
“We are going to continue the fight,” said Raglan George, Jr., executive director of Local 1707 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
The protesters marched from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan to City Hall, where the crowd was addressed by more than a dozen City Council members and union leaders.
The City is still plans to eventually close 16 subsidized, center-based day care programs in locations where officials say the rents are too expensive. Another 124 day care classrooms also face closure. The cuts would affect at least 3,600 children. Recent State legislation calls for the city to give at least six months notice before closing any day care center. However, the city is blocking applications from new parents to send their children to the threatened programs.
“Mayor Bloomberg is spending more money to try and close these centers than it would cost to run them,” said George, pointing out that the City is still paying the operating expenses for the spaces, including rent.
The City’s Administration for Children’s Services received $29 million in “Stimulus” funds from the federal government for day care services and an additional $18 million from the City Council in June. The funds should be more than enough to cover the costs of maintaining the threatened educational programs for young children, according to advocates. However, ACS has given no indication that the funds will actually be used to keep centers open.
“There is no shortage of need for this service,” said George. Many day care centers have long waiting lists and only a quarter of the families eligible for day programs have access to the program, he said.
“This administration ignores the pleas of working families and slashes programs with no regard of its effect on the budgets of parents or community stability,” said Mabel Everett, president of AFSCME Local 205.