Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg outlined his FY2014 Preliminary Budget yesterday and for the second year in a row outlined massive proposed cuts to early childhood and afterschool programs. Providers and advocates who had mounted a major grassroots campaign last year to win $150 million in restorations of these cuts expressed extreme disappointment and vowed to prepare for battle again.
“I am, once again, disappointed to see all of the additional program dollars added by the City Council at budget adoption removed from the City’s budget plan,” said Allison Sesso, Deputy Executive Director of the Human Services Council (HSC). “Advocates should dust off their dancing shoes to get ready for the inevitable process of fighting for the same restorations we push for year after year.”
The Campaign for Children, a coalition of over 150 child care and after-school advocacy and provider organizations, argued that the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget cuts more than $135 million needed to keep after-school and early education programs open. The budget, they said, includes:
- None of the City Council’s $120 million restorations from last year which will run out in June, causing hundreds of programs to shut their doors to the children they serve;
- A further $10 million cut to Out-of-School Time (OST) after-school programs;
- An additional $5.3 million cut to child car which will result in another 250-300 children losing child care vouchers each month as their parents transition off of public assistance.
“Groundhog’s Day came early this year for New York City’s children and working families,“ said Michelle Yanche, Assistant Executive Director for Government and External Relations at Good Shepherd Services, on behalf of the Campaign for Children. “Just like last year, 47,000 children are set to lose access to after-school and early education programs – programs proven to help children succeed while parents work to support their families. The same parents and providers will be forced to fight for the same funding that they were just given a few months ago. How can this be happening, after all we’ve heard from our City leaders about making children a priority?“
“The City simply can’t go back on its promise to children and families – not when we’ve been told time and again that after-school and early education programs are a priority forthis administration,“ said Jennifer Jones Austin, Executive Director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, on behalf of the Campaign for Children. “We need our City’s leaders to make long-term investments in these essential programs that help our children succeed in school and in life. The Mayor must include the needed funds in his Executive Budget.“
“Once again, the mayor’s proposed cuts to after-school and early childhood programs will continue a disappointing trend of shrinking programs for the children in our city who need them most,“ said Richard R. Buery, Jr. President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society . “A budget that does not prioritize needy children and working families fails the test of fairness and opportunity for all New Yorkers. We at Children’s Aid are committed to working with our government, nonprofit and corporate partners to restore this critical funding.“
“There is a great unmet need for afterschool programs citywide; therefore elimination of any slots would create an even greater shortage of critical programs for our young people,“ added Kathy Fitzgibbons, Senior Policy Analyst for Elderly Welfare and Youth Services.
“In addition, FPWA is distressed by the proposal to revise the eligibility process for post transitional child care. This new $5.3 million budget cut to child care vouchers will potentially impact the access of 250-300 children to quality early childhood education programs, as their parents transition off of public assistance,“ stated Liz Accles, Senior Policy Analyst for Early Childhood Education and Income Security.
Advocates, however, indicated that they were prepared to take on the Mayor again. The Campaign for Children recently kicked off their new phase of 2013 organizing with a series of town hall meetings in each borough during the month of January. The meetings attracted hundreds of parents, providers, and community members who are concerned about the City’s lack of investment in child care and after-school programs, and who together will call on City leaders and candidates for office to have a long-term plan to stabilize the systems.
The New York City Coalition Against Hunger also took issue with the Mayor’s budget. “Despite high levels of hunger in NYC pre-Sandy, a huge spike in food insecurity since the storm, and increasing food prices, the Mayor has again proposed flat funding funding the city’s struggling food pantries,“ said Joel Berg, Executive Director of NYCCAH. “Given the increased need, this is, in effect, a cut. Unless the City Council is able to provide more money that the Mayor proposes, local hunger will surely increase. A City this wealthy shouldn’t balance its budget on the backs of the hungry. We are glad, however that the Mayor was withdrawn his ill-advised plan to increase the prices of school lunches.“
The New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL) expressed disappointment at the lack of funding for adult literacy in Mayor Bloomberg’s FY preliminary budget, continuing the downward trend in the Administration’s inclusion of adult literacy programs in the City’s budget. Over the last four years, the City’s investment in DYCD’s Adult Literacy programs has fallen by over 80% from $5.2 million in FY 2010 to just $1 million in FY 2013, restored by the City Council for one year. This has resulted in the loss of over 6,000 classroom seats in a city with over 3 million immigrants and 1 million adults lacking a high school diploma.
“After years of budget cuts, providers are forced to decrease their classes while still trying to serve a growing population,“ said Christina Curran, Director of Adult Education for the Fifth Avenue Committee. “Prospective students are on the waitlist six to eight months, which already has 200 names on it. The demand is overwhelming.“
NYCCAL calls on the Mayor and the City Council to work together to restore city funding for essential community-based adult literacy programs and consider the long-term benefits of these programs.
Child Protective Services
“FPWA remains concerned about the impact of a $1.8 million budget cut proposed for the Administration for Children’s Services Division of Child Protection (DCP,“ stated Noah Franklin, Senior Policy Analyst for Child Welfare and Workforce Development. “In the past, ACS has made efforts to increase utilization in General Preventive services by working with Child Protective Services staff to refer more cases to general preventive service providers. While ACS has claimed that caseloads will not be affected as a result of proposed staff cuts, we are concerned that budget cuts would lead to higher Protective Services caseloads for the remaining managers and a reduction of DCP’s capacity to make timely referrals to general preventive service providers.“
“FPWA is concerned about the proposal of the Department of Social Services to align rental assistance levels with medical necessity. It is unclear in what way this action would help improve the efficiency of the HIV/AIDS program when only low-income people with an AIDS diagnosis are eligible for the benefits. It is also unclear what methodology and information will be used to complete the assessment,” stated Esther Lok, Assistant Director of Policy, Advocacy and Research and Senior Policy Analyst for HIV/AIDS.
Some Good News
“The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) is appreciative that the Mayor has continued to baseline funding for child welfare preventive services,“ stated Jennifer Jones Austin, Executive Director & CEO. “We are also happy to see that no funding cut was made to aging services. This is particularly important given the projected growth of the older adult population in New York City.“