City budget threatens cuts to child care
CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 6/20/2013, 11:33 a.m.
Single mother Marisol Pagan may not have an after-school program to send her first-grade son to under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's budget cuts, which will take $130 million out of child care programs.
Pagan's son is one of the 47,000 children who will have nowhere to go after school when many programs will close their doors. Pagan's son goes to the Catholic Charities Out of School Time (OST) program.
"All working parents need a trustworthy place for their children," said Pagan. "Without after-school [programs], where will my child go while I am at work? For families in need, these services help us stay out of poverty and reach our goals. Without the Out of School Time after-school programs, I would have to stop working and rely on public assistance. I don't want that for me--or my son."
According to the mayor's preliminary budget $120 million of last year's restoration is one-year, discretionary money that will run out in June. The preliminary budget includes none of this funding, which will cause hundreds of programs to have to shut their doors to the children they serve.
An additional $10 million cut to after-school programs will affect OST after-school programs, an after-school initiative created by Bloomberg himself in 2005, eliminating slots for more than 3,600 children.
Research shows that children who attend child care and youth who participate in after-school programs do better in school, are more likely to graduate and have lower incidences of violence, drug use and teen pregnancy. These programs also allow working parents to keep their jobs.
Last week, several Queens parents and children came together at Queens Borough Hall to rally against the mayor's cuts to child care and after-school programs in the borough and across the city.
At the rally, parents and children at risk of losing programs were joined by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Queens Council Members Leroy Comrie, Karen Koslowitz, Jimmy Van Bramer, Mark Weprin and Donovan Richards. They were joined by the Campaign for Children, which urged Bloomberg to fully fund child care and after-school programs in his executive budget, to be released this month.
"After-school and youth programming are one of the most vital services our city provides. They are not only critical resources for our youth, but also relief for parents who work long hours and need a safe environment for their children," said City Council Deputy Majority Leader Comrie.
Marshall said that programs should be expanded for youth to sufficiently improve education.
"Upwards of 50,000 youngsters would be affected by these child care and after-school program cuts, and thousands of parents would have to struggle with development of a whole new game plan to ensure their children's safety and well-being after school," said Marshall. "The children love these programs and will be the innocent victims if these proposals are enacted. I am happy to join the Campaign for Children in its mission to see that every child has access to a safe, high-quality, affordable and educational child care and after-school program."