The cat may already be out of the bag but City Councilman Al Vann and 41 other members of the City Council sent a letter to Mayor Bloomberg urging the administration to not move forward with a plan to overhaul the city’s subsidized child care system.
Among other things, the plan, dubbed EarlyLearn, is expected to reduce capacity for eligible children by about 10,000 kids and force child care centers to foot 7 percent of the bill for providing daycare for eligible families under the subsidized program. Additionally, the plan calls for day care centers to pay for the health care of its workers. Currently, the workers are covered through the city’s health care plan. Vann said he supports the Bloomberg Administration’s enhancing the quality of publicly funded child care, but EarlyLearn has serious flaws that affect some of the communities with the poorest children including parts of Bed-Stuy.
“Given the negative impact EarlyLearn will have on some of the same populations the mayor’s Young Men’s Initiative is intended to support, it’s difficult to overlook the inconsistencies in the Bloomberg Administration’s overall policy towards poor and working- class New Yorkers,” said Vann. The letter comes to light as the city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) closed the date for day care providers to submit a Request for Proposals (RFP) earlier this week on Sept. 12. Released in May 2011, the RFP lays out a series of reforms that would overhaul how the city operates its subsidized childcare system. It comes after Bloomberg threatened to pull 16,000 subsidized daycare slots to balance this year’s fiscal budget. City Council members believe that forcing daycare providers to contribute some of the cost of services as well as paying for worker health insurance will, in effect, force some of the local day care centers to close. In other words, it gives an unfair advantage to some of the city’s larger community-based organizations to vie for contracts as they can better absorb the costs. The RFP, issue in May, also drew the wrath of Labor Union 1707, which filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor alleging unfair practices because they would lose their current medical coverage. The union could not be reached at press time as to the progress of the complaint. ACS will award the successful RFP recipients with four-year contracts including options to renew for an additional two years. The contracts are scheduled to begin Oct. 1, 2012. “Community-based child care centers that have provided quality care and been institutions of stability within communities for decades will be eliminated,” said Vann. “Additionally, many employees of these centers, who are primarily Black and Latino, will lose their jobs as a result of this reorganization,” he added. ACS did not respond for comment at press time.