Thursday, June 9, 2011

Child Care Advocates Respond to Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Hearing



As the City Council General Welfare Committee heard testimony from the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), child care advocates called on Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council to fully restore money to child care in the final budget.

The Executive Budget still makes significant cuts to child care, leaving thousands of low-income children without access to care next year. New York children – many of whom live in communities with high unemployment, high unmet needs for child care, and low achievement on standardized tests – are at risk of losing the care they deserve and that hard-working families rely on.

The Mayor’s Executive Budget still contains significant cuts to child care. How can child care be “saved” when 119 child care centers around the City are at risk of closing their doors?” said Council Member and Chair of the General Welfare Committee Annabel Palma. “Our children deserve more than a game of musical chairs – they deserve access to safe, affordable, educational child care."

This budget still means that children around the city will be deprived of care, parents will be forced to choose between child care and going to work, and child care teachers and providers will lose their jobs,” said The Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson, Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund – New York. “The City Council and the Mayor must ensure that no child loses child care and that we maintain critical early childhood capacity in our most under-resourced communities.”

The Emergency Coalition to Save Child Care, made up of organizations representing thousands of city residents, says it will continue fighting for all children from low-income, working families who are in danger of losing child care. The Coalition, which released a report last month detailing the unequal impacts of the Mayor’s cuts, maintains that the city can’t afford to cut a single child care slot. This care allows working parents to keep their jobs, stay off public assistance, and provide their children with a strong foundation for school success.

Without child care, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Kim Sandy, a single mother whose 3-year old son attends The Educational Alliance’s Lillian Wald Day Care Center. “I won’t be able to keep my job and provide for my family. So many parents depend on this care – for the Mayor to continue to cut child care just doesn’t make sense.”

As they negotiate the budget, it is imperative that the Mayor and the City Council ensure that child care centers and family day care providers remain fully funded and that capacity remains in place for future generations of children,” said Jennifer March-Joly, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children.

The city already has high unemployment, and cutting child care means more people out of work,” said Raglan George Jr., Executive Director of AFSCME District Council 1707. “Parents without a safe place to leave their child while they work would be forced to quit their jobs, and child care professionals would be laid off. The Mayor and the City Council must protect working families by restoring the cuts to child care in the final budget.”


Despite what some are saying, child care has not yet been saved. The Executive Budget still contains significant cuts to child care. New York’s children deserve more than a game of musical chairs. In this budget, 7,000 fewer children from low income working families will have access to child care next year, estimates the Emergency Coalition to Save Child Care. If these cuts are implemented, there will be 29% less child care and after school slots for working families in this coming Fiscal Year than there were in 2007. These cuts are a dramatic reversal of the City’s promise to expand early learning opportunities for our children.


Children will pay the biggest price for this cut in child care services. According to many studies, including The Productivity Argument for Investing In Young Children, early childhood learning opportunities lead to more positive outcomes later in life. Children who attend quality early childhood programs are more likely to graduate from high school, less likely to be involved in crime and less likely to become teen parents.


Child care is the single most important factor keeping single mothers in the workforce. Research has shown that child care subsidy programs increase employment rates for single mothers. Federal welfare reform was accompanied by a massive ramp up in support for child care which was a key part in moving more New Yorkers from welfare to work. Many parents, especially single mothers, have reported that they would be unable to work without child care assistance. The costs of child care are prohibitive and for many, without a subsidy, it does not pay to work. Despite all of the rhetoric about helping people become employed and stay self-sufficient, these cuts will lead to many parents leaving the workforce and becoming more reliant on government supports, such as health insurance, food stamps, unemployment or public assistance.


Studies have shown that every $1 cut from child care leads to a $1.86 loss in economic activity, and that child care and early learning programs save hundreds of millions of dollars in future costs for remedial education and lowered high school graduation rates.

These cuts will lead to a higher need for other government programs such as health insurance, food stamps, public assistance and unemployment benefits. Many parents determine that the high cost of child care exceeds their income, and they are unable to go to work because they have nowhere safe for their children during the day. More than a thousand early childhood professionals will lose their jobs and the availability of employment in this sector will be drastically reduced.