Afterschool, Day Care Slots Threatened By Budget Cuts
Early education is facing steep cuts if Mayor’s Bloomberg’s $68.7 billion proposed budget becomes law. Slots in both afterschool and day care programs would be lost as the programs will be cut a combined total of approximately $150 million.
Afterschool programs funded by the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) will be limited to three on the peninsula according to information on the DYCD website. Safe Space will run one for elementary school students at PS 105 on Beach 51 Street. For middle schools students there will be the Waterside School for Leadership on Beach 110 Street and Village Academy on Nameoke Street. Current Safe Space afterschool programs at PS 104, PS 215 and Kappa VI will be discontinued.
Bloomberg’s budget proposal has cut funding for Out-Of-School-Time (OST) programs by 50 percent.
“The money is not there for the schools currently in the programs,” said a representative for Christine Molnar, the president and CEO of Safe Space. “Hopefully it will be restored.”
At the heart of the changes in day care is the City’s new EarlyLearn NYC which Bloomberg says will “revolutionize early child care in New York City by standardizing education as part of child care. It gives us the opportunity to transform the system from the ground up and bring quality early care and education to New York’s neediest and youngest children during the critical developmental years of their lives.”
Currently there are 50,000 children in city day care. Seven thousand children will be dropped from the rolls as a result of the new program that is meant to merge day care and early education into one system. In Rockaway 300 slots will be lost – 90 at Sheldon R. Weaver Day Care in Far Rockaway, 60 at Bethel Mission Loving Day Care in Rockaway Beach, 95 at Lucille Rose Day Care on Beach 59 Street, and 55 at Hammels/Arverne Day Care.
While the Administration for Children’s Service’s has not officially sent day care centers letters of closure, they have been notified that, as of November 5, they will no longer receive ACS monies.
Arlene Cauley, director of Sheldon R. Weaver, believes the crisis facing day care centers this year is “bigger than last year because the EarlyLearning [program] is affecting the whole city. A lot of programs are not receiving funding.” She also believes “Rockaway is disenfranchised” by the immense number of possible day care closures.
Elaine Short, the director of Lucille Rose Day Care, explained further that none of the centers in the 11692 area code received a new contract. With the cuts being made, Short said, “the City of New York has limited the future of our children.” She added that statistics show that children who attend early day care are much more likely to graduate from college.
The budget is now with the City Council. Safe Space has a letter writing campaign at the sites that are threatened. Parents are urged to contact the director of the OST program in their school for more information. Cauley is also imploring parents to get involved. “Parents have the power to overturn this,” she said.