Impact of the Cuts
The combined effects of the mayor’s proposed budget and structural changes to both the early childhood and after-school systems will eliminate programs for an additional 47,000 children. This is the latest in a series of reductions. Come September, a total of 90,000 kids will have lost their early childhood or after-school programs since 2009 — a 2/3 reduction. Every city agency has faced cuts, but I am not aware of any other program that has been forced to absorb cuts at that scale. The city recently announced the winners of the newest round of Out-of-School Time contracts, and nearly half of programs city wide will be closing their doors.
In Central Harlem, only 5.7% of eligible families will have access to early childhood education.
And the impact goes beyond education and safety — it’s an economic tragedy as well. For the working parents we serve, these programs are a life line to the workforce. Consider Lilibet. For her, raising two sons alone, working full-time and living paycheck to paycheck, The Children’s Aid Society’s after school programs mean the difference between going to work and supporting her family or staying home and relying on public benefits. How could it possibly benefit us as a city to drive her, and thousands like her, from the workforce?
As the New York Times said in a recent editorial, “Mr. Bloomberg and the Council need to do a lot more for the city’s neediest children.” We cannot balance our budgets on the backs of these, our neediest New Yorkers.
The cuts will be particularly devastating to low-income children and their families. One in three children in New York, and two in three public school children, live in poverty. These have been difficult years for those New Yorkers at the bottom of the economic ladder. We have already cut their services to the bone, and our waiting lists are the longest they have ever been. Further reductions will devastate the very children who the mayor has championed in both his philanthropy and public service.
When he was asked about these cuts, the Mayor responded, “We can’t do everything we want in the size and frequency that you would like, but the objective is to try to balance and make choices and we will try to do that and do it responsibly like we’ve been doing for 10 years.”
He is absolutely right. A budget is, at the end of the day, a series of choices. It tells you what is critical and what is expendable. It tells you who matters and who does not.
The Mayor’s budget says that needy children and working families don’t matter. Several of my colleagues in the fields of early childhood and afterschool have launched the Campaign for Children to remind him otherwise. I urge you to join us — our children need all the support they can get.
You can help The Children’s Aid Society today by signing this petition to save child care and after-school programs in NYC!
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