NYC Budget Cuts Hurting Our Kids

This post is courtesy of Richard Buery, Jr., president of The Children’s Aid Society, and originally appeared on the Manhattan Viewpoint blog.

On Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg announced his $68.7 billion budget proposal, and for the fifth straight year, his budget slashes early childhood and after school programs.

Nonsensical Cuts

With Wall Street tax revenues lower than predicted and our city still recovering from the economic downtown, I understand that the city has difficult choices to make, but decimating these critical programs for children is just the wrong choice.

From his Young Men’s Initiative to improve outcomes for young people of color, to his plans to serve juveniles in supportive programs here in New York City rather than upstate juvenile jails, to the groundbreaking poverty-fighting initiatives of his Center for Economic Opportunity, the Mayor has demonstrated his sincere commitment to the poor and working-class children of New York City.  And while I haven’t agreed with every element of his education reform policies, he has bravely asked to be judged as the “education mayor.” Our expectations of what a public education system can and should be expected to deliver for poor children have been changed forever.

That is why the mayor’s proposed cuts to early childhood education and after-school programs make absolutely no sense.  We all understand how important it is to keep kids engaged and on track beginning at a very early age.  Every $1 spent on high-quality early childhood programs for a disadvantaged child creates up to$9 in future benefits — in new taxes collected and more productive workers, and fewer dollars spent on publicly subsidized health care, prisons and the like.  A great early childhood program prepares students for school — any kindergarten teacher can tell you about the importance of these resources.

Quality after-school and summer programs are similarly critical for children’s development.  A study by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids New York found that the majority of juvenile crime occurs between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Children who are consistently involved in stimulating, educational activities grow up to be smart, safe and productive members of society. They are more likely to go to college, get jobs, support their families and less likely to end up on the streets, involved in gangs or in prison. After-school programs not only help children succeed in school, but they also keep them off of the streets.

Once upon a time, the Mayor understood this. He has said, “Teaching doesn’t stop when the last school bell rings.” He created the city’s Out-of-School Time initiative, a nationally recognized effort to bring high-quality after-school and summer programs to kids, declaring that what happens after school is as important as what happens during the school day.

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!

To stay updated on how The Children’s Aid Society is helping New York City’s children in poverty to succeed and thrive and to learn how you can help, LIKE them here.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock


Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra5 years ago

Thank you Kayla, for Sharing this!

Patrick F.
Patrick f5 years ago

As far as tax dollars go, the people are the ones getting squeezed out.

Antje F.
a f5 years ago

Many American children are educationally deficient compared to European and Asian children already. Each cut of the school budget anywhere put our kids at more of a disadvantage than they are already. Reduced physical education programs have made our kids fat and for many sports was the only incentive to study hard. Computer learning is great but it doesn't make up for physical activity keeping the mind sharp and refreshed. I feel sorry for today's youth for missing out on so much, and for us adults who will have to eventually depend on these same kids when they grow up. They already don't know how to count back change for purchases, the way we did when growing up.

Krystyna H.
Krystyna H5 years ago

Why is such a local article being posted on a site with so many international readers? Lots of cities everywhere are having these problems. Posting this article here unfortunately makes it sound as if NYC is the centre of the universe, so the whole world must weep for NY kids. It would have been better if the problem was discussed in general, and not so locally.

John Mansky
John Mansky5 years ago

I no longer live in N.Y.C.,therefore do not care...

Christeen Anderson
Christeen A5 years ago

Children need all the help they can get these days to become future leaders and worthy adults.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran5 years ago


Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thanks for the information.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 5 years ago

Sadly noted.

Sue H.
Sue H5 years ago

Sadly, NYC is not th only place this is happening. Across our once great nation, child care and after school programs are being "cut". Maybe if we Stopped funding wars there would be something left over for our future generations education.