By Stephen Witt
Thousands of kids who nearly lost their seats in the city’s day care and after-school programs saw their spots restored as Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council shook hands on a $68.5 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2013.
But the spending plan still left many longtime and smaller day care providers without a renewed contract thanks to a Bloomberg consolidation of the programs.
“The mayor’s proposed budget exposed the plan for a radical restructuring of the city’s subsidized child care program that undermines and, in many cases, devastates long-standing, community-based child care providers and institutions,” said Bed-Stuy City Councilman Al Vann. “But working parents and advocates fought hard against this assault throughout the budget season and their voices were heard.”
Bloomberg’s original proposed budget called for millions of dollars of cuts to the programs resulting in the loss of 6,500 child-care spots and 30,000 after-school spots. He also asked for all providers of the city’s daycare and after school programs to resubmit bids – a move that critics charge was weighted in favor of larger providers thus taking jobs from local communities.
Vann said he was pleased that his district received an increase in services, which is appropriate given the district’s high level of need, but disappointed with the process that will ultimately close some of these longtime providers.
“I deeply regret that the loss of some providers will disrupt the relationships they have built with families and lead to the loss of jobs,” said Vann. “Nevertheless, the addition of child care and after-school slots will ensure that Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights are included in the city’s vision of a comprehensive educational system that prepares children for academic success and supports them along the way.”
Of local good news, the after school program in the PAL Wynn Center on Gates Avenue will get a restoration and stay open, according to a Vann spokesperson.
The Vann spokesperson said at press time the office does not have a list of which day care programs in Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights would be cut for new providers.
Also expecting to get a last-second reprieve is the day care and after-school programs that the Fort Greene Council Center has run on Fulton Street for 32 years. Both the programs are in City Councilwoman Letitia James’ district and were slated for closure prior to the budget deal.