June 28, 2012
By Marc Bussanich, LaborPress City Reporter
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council announced a budget agreement on Monday, June 25 whereby 6,500 slots for the EarlyLearn program and 47,000 slots for after-school and out-of-school time programs will be restored. Council Speaker Christine Quinn hailed the agreement by saying “…..child care can and must be part of a lifelong education that continues with pre-K, through Kindergarten and that ultimately leads to every child graduating high school for college.”
But a Council source noted that while the preservation of slots got all the attention, long-time providers providing early child care services for infants and toddlers are at a critical juncture because EarlyLearn did not award some not-for-profit providers who have been offering services in diverse communities.
It is very likely that a number of the not-for-profit providers will close their doors because without the contract it will be impossible for them to remain open.
While there are individual Council Members who are very concerned because within their own districts there are providers slated to close, it’s not clear whether the Council body will try to stop the implementation of EarlyLearn.
Not only will providers and DC 1707 members who work in the day care centers be adversely affected, but the local economy is at risk because the vast majority of the workers are women of color who come from low- to middle-income social backgrounds and whose lose of purchasing power will affect small businesses.
A DC 1707 member noted that there’s a considerable lack of clarity beyond the funding the Council and Mayor provided. There are likely to be other issues that the union will have to address in the coming weeks and months, such as union representation. The DC 1707 member said that there’s anecdotal evidence that employees have been told to reapply for their jobs at certain centers.
Although the city has committed to funding the 6,500 slots, no decision has been made, however, on how the slots will be allocated and to whom.
The member also said, “They [city] could, at one end, reopen all the centers they didn’t give contracts to, and at the other end of the spectrum, they could not reopen any of the centers and give money to other providers, or a combination of both scenarios.” firstname.lastname@example.org