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Day Care Sues ACS for Closure

Selena Hill | 4/12/2011, 5:32 p.m.

The Bedford Avenue Day Care Center won't close up shop without a fight. It's slated for closure next year by the NYC Administration for Child Services (ACS) due to a measure projected by Mayor Bloomberg to help cap the $9 million state budget gap. However, the Fort Greene Council and the Bedford Child Care Center have filed suit against the ACS and are accusing them of being "arbitrary, capricious and discriminatory."

According to Sam Pinn, the Fort Greene Council Chairman, the support that the Bedford-Stuyvesant region of Brooklyn gave to Bill Thompson, Bloomberg's opponent during the 2009 mayor elections, influenced the ACS to close the Bedford center, and others alike. He says: "[ACS] began planning all of this the same month that the mayor won his reelection."

It was first announced in February that the subsidized day care, which has been serving low-income families around Bed-Stuy for 40 years, would be shuttered. However, the city council voted to extend the childcare program for three months and, in August, new legislation prolonged the program for an additional six months. Still, the attendance rate at the Bedford center drastically declined because the ACS imposed an enrollment freeze in June, which restricts parents from re-registering or newly enrolling their children. "Doors were open everyday, but nobody was coming in and no one was bringing in their children," says Sam Pinn, the Forte Green Council Chairman.

According to the Council, the ACS initially justified their decision to close the center by claiming that it was under enrolled, despite the center's records which indicate that 91% of its slots were filled at the time. When the ACS acknowledged this, Pinn says they found another reason to close the center. "They said that [our] program was paying the highest rent." On the contrary, reports from the ACS annual lease costs for City funded day cares proves that 84 out of 115 centers have higher rent subsidies than Bedford's. "You have a program paying $800, 000, we're paying $300,000 - there's a big difference, one is almost a million dollars, and one is less than a third of that," declared Pinn. Furthermore, "the programs paying the highest rents are still open."

In turn, the Council states that the ACS decisions are not based on any rationale of and, instead, the high lease cost were an excuse "for its determination to close down centers in a community that voted against the Mayor," reads the Council law suit press release.

This case ruling is expected in December.

The ACS declined comment for this article.