June 15, 2012
By Marc Bussanich, LaborPress City Reporter
At the Friends of Crown Heights day care center in Staten Island on Thursday, June 14, Local 205 members and Council Member Deborah Rose held a presser on the grounds to inform the public that the center is slated to close because it did not receive a contract via the EarlyLearn awards issued on May 4.
Marie Casdenas, an assistant teacher at the center and a shop steward for the 14 members of Local 205 represented (affiliated with DC 1707) has worked at Friends of Crown Heights for the past 26 years. She started out as a substitute and she’s seen kids grow up doing well in school in no small part due to the learning activities the center provides.
“I wish I had gone to day care when I was growing up,” said Casdenas.
The Brooklyn-based center has been providing day care for the past 30 years, but another provider formerly owned the center, so the nearby community has been accustomed to the services for longer than 30 years.
Casdenas noted that the members work as teachers, assistants, aids, custodial workers, bookkeepers and kitchen staff.
“The children get three fresh meals per day rather than processed food,” Casdenas said.
She noted that teachers at the center have to receive the same preparation as public school teachers, but unlike public schools that close for the summer, the center is open 5 days per week from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
“We have to remain open late because many of the children’s parents are working.”
Council Member Deborah Rose, who represents District 49 in Staten Island, said in an interview that she believes there were technicalities in the Administration of Children’s Services’ EarlyLearn proposal.
“We’re asking ACS for more time to reevaluate the rankings of the centers that didn’t get contracts,” said Rose.
While ACS was initially lukewarm to the idea, Rose said that because City Council members have been so disturbed by the awards process, some members are talking with ACS to possibly reconsider.
“A lot of the centers citywide that have been providing services for a long time didn’t get contracts via EarlyLearn,” Rose said.
For example, Lutheran Social Services of New York did get a contract via EarlyLearn for the 65 seats that Friends of Crown Heights currently owns.
Although it is one of the bigger providers that was awarded, and has a history of providing services in the City, Rose could not say whether Brooklyn-based Lutheran would continue to provide the services in Staten Island or offer them in Brooklyn, which would make it very difficult for working parents in the community to drop off their children. firstname.lastname@example.org