Remember all of the nice promises Mayor Bloomberg made to expand early learning opportunities for children in New York City? Well, maybe, he was just kidding.
According to the New York City Council, 17,000 slots are slated for elimination in the mayor’s executive budget, which will be released on Thursday, May 5. Add that number of slots to the already 14,000 slots that have been eliminated since 2006, and that equals a 50 percent cut in child care slots in the last five years – the biggest blow to child care since the 1970s.
In Brooklyn, 3,500 families will be affected. Bedford-Stuyvesant would be one of the most heavily impacted neighborhoods in the city, losing more than 680 slots.
“These cuts are penny-wise and pound-foolish, and have the potential to push thousands of hard working parents out of the workforce and onto public assistance,” said City Council Member Al Vann.
The cuts come on the heels of a state budget showing that has been remarkably scaled back from years past, leaving the mayor with a lot of tough choices.
"We all recognize that these service reductions will make things difficult for the families who are affected, and we are working with parents to help them find alternative child care," said Elysia Murphy, deputy communications director for the NYC Administration for Children's Services.
She also pointed out that approximately 16,000, versus 17,000, seats will be reduced effective September 2011.
"Unfortunately, we have to take action to address the more than $90 million budget shortfall caused by rising costs as state and federal resources for child care have not kept pace," Murphy said.
But a report issued this month by the Emergency Coalition to Save Child Care, shows that the impact of these cuts is not shared equally and will hit some of the city’s most struggling communities the hardest.
In response to this report, 45 out of the 51 New York City Council Members have signed a letter urging Mayor Bloomberg to restore these dramatic cuts: “Tough budget times do lead to tough choices,” the letter states, “but as elected officials it is our duty to ensure that our next generation of New Yorkers is afforded the tools for success.”
The letter goes on to tell the mayor, “It is critical that you restore and baseline the $95 million needed to preserve child care for these parents.”
Studies have shown that every $1 cut from child care leads to a $1.86 loss in economic activity, and that a cut of this magnitude to child care and early learning programs could cost the city a billion dollars in future costs for remedial education and lowered high school graduation rates.
“The City Council understands that times are tough – but in tough economic times, child care is the last thing we should cut,” said Vann.