Bloomberg cuts funding to longtime African-American CBO

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Young marchers outside of Young Minds Day Care protesting center closure.

After 32 years of running a day care center and after-school program for thousands of Central Brooklyn kids, the Bloomberg Administration informed one of the borough’s oldest African-American-founded and run community-based organizations (CBO) that they will not be given a new contract.

The Fort Greene Council (FGC), headquartered at 966 Fulton Street, were the latest longtime nonprofits to lose their contracts under the city’s recent consolidations of both day care and Out of School Time (OST) after-school programs.

Both the FGC-run Young Minds Day Care Center and the Young Minds Day Care Center are based out of 972 Fulton Street, which also houses a senior center, making it one of the few intergenerational centers in the city.

“With the senior center at that location children and grandchildren have gone to that center so that facility services three generations of community members,” said Julia Shaw, a spokesperson for the FGC.
The denied contracts stem from the city requiring new requests for proposals (RFP) from all child care and OST providers under a new grading system based on different criteria.

Critics charge the criteria is weighted towards larger community-based organizations that have the ability to put 6.7 percent of their own money towards cost of service.

In the early lean child-care program for infants, toddlers and younger children, 149 CBOs were awarded contracts out of 282 proposals submitted leaving 71 current providers without contracts.

It also means that 6,407 young children will no longer have a day care center. In Bedford-Stuyvesant, over 200 slots were lost, meaning some parents may have to leave their jobs to care for their young.

There are currently 417 elementary and middle school OST programs with 53,000 slots. Beginning in September, when the new contracts and consolidation goes into effect, this number will be cut roughly in half to 225 OST programs and 27,000 slots. For Brooklyn, these figures are 18,000 kids served now and that number will shrink to 9,400 in September.

Among the OST programs cut are the borough’s three Police Athletic League (PAL) programs including the PAL Wynn Center serving the Armstrong Houses in Bed-Stuy at 495 Gates Avenue, and two PAL OST programs serving East New York and Brownsville.

While local lawmakers think money to run some of these OST programs denied contracts will be restored at the end of the month when the city is expected to approve the fiscal year 2012-13 city budget, others worry the child care slots may be lost for good.

“The loss of child care centers and after-school programs will leave parents with limited to no safe and dependable care for their children when at work,” said City Councilwoman Letitia James. “Parents and child care employees are understandably concerned about how these cuts will affect their families and jobs. We need to review the agencies’ selection methods and better understand why long-standing centers and programs were decimated as a result of RFPs aimed to improve and maintain cultural relevance and outstanding services.”

Meanwhile, local Bed-Stuy residents are casting a wary eye with summer approaching and Bloomberg defending stop-and-frisk practices while cutting enrichment programs with an unemployment rate that is now above 10 percent borough-wide.

“Bloomberg is closing down everything before he gets out of office,” said Dr. Kim Best, president of the 79th Precinct Community Council and a member of Community Board 3. “It’s a mess.”
(See photo on Page 12)