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Child Watch® Column: "Fighting Cuts to Child Care"

Release Date: May 20, 2011

Marian Wright Edelman

New York City parent Yvonne works as a home care attendant to help support her three-year-old son Darnell. While Yvonne is working, Darnell is enrolled at Franklin Square Head Start, part of Union Settlement in East Harlem, where he receives quality child care and is thriving. Earlier this year Yvonne received a letter saying Darnell would be dropped from the program on September 2, 2011. Yvonne can't afford a private preschool and she can't leave Darnell home alone. Without other affordable options, when September comes Yvonne will have nowhere for Darnell to go while she works.

On New York's Lower East Side, Macology's father MacDonald drops her off at the Lillian Wald Pre-School every morning after his night shift and her mother picks her up in the evening on the way home from her job. MacDonald and his wife are enrolled in school and working to support their three children. Quality child care like the Lillian Ward Pre-School, where Macology gets to participate in dance, music, and gym, is essential to their family. If Macology loses her preschool place in September her parents don't know what they will do.

Darnell, Macology, and their parents are among thousands of families in limbo in New York City since Mayor Bloomberg announced a draconian cut earlier this year of 17,000 child care slots effective September 2nd. These cuts would hurt many working families with children. The city had already cut 14,000 slots since 2006 and currently only serves 27% of the children eligible for child care subsidies. Cutting another 17,000 spaces would make this sizeable shortfall even worse. Thousands of nurses, cashiers, home health aides, and small business employees would be in a bind as families who work hard and pay taxes wouldn't be able to go to work because they were losing their child care. So the Children's Defense Fund-New York (CDF-NY) joined dozens of other organizations to form the Emergency Coalition to Save Children and released a report protesting the Mayor's drastic cuts. In early May, Mayor Bloomberg released a revised budget proposal that restored $40 million of the original $91 million that had been cut in funding. While a positive first step, this budget will still result in at least 7,000 fewer low-income children having access to early childhood opportunities next year. In addition, the budget increased the cut to after-school programming, leaving almost 16,000 youths without after-school services.New York City's debate reflects what's happening across the country as states and cities try to balance budgets by cutting child care services for working families. In 36 states and the District of Columbia, the annual cost of center-based child care for a four-year-old exceeds the annual in-state tuition at a public four-year college. As costs continue to rise and families continue to struggle in this fragile economy, it is time for state and local governments to expand rather than cut access to early learning opportunities for children making it harder for parents to afford and find appropriate care. As Mayra Delgado, another New York City parent of a three-year-old and a legal assistant in a law firm, put it: "If the city takes my son out of child care, I won't be able to keep my job and support my family. In tough times, the child care that working families depend on should be the last thing the Mayor and City Council cut." I agree.

Read the report "When There is No Care: The Impact on NYC Children, Families and Economy When the Mayor Eliminates Child Care for 17,000 Children" and join the coalition in standing up for children and families.


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Here's what others have said:

Submitted by Kimmy at: December 30, 2011
Very interesting article.

Submitted by HHCLC at: May 31, 2011
Hello Ms. Edelman, These stories are so disturbing and I live it everyday. Our most recent case was a parent whose services were cut because she left her job to take care of her 90 year old ailing mother who had a major stroke and can no longer care for herself. Since the mother was no longer working, services were cut and the expectation was that the mother should keep the four year-old child home with her instead of keeping him in a quality school where he could best be served. Needless to say, our hearts went out to this family and our school decided to take the loss of tuition so that the child could remain in a structured, educational atmosphere where he can continue to learn and to thrive. Thank you for all you do and have done over the year's. To God Be the Glory! Deborah L. Tillman, M.S. Ed Executive Director Happy Home Child Learning Centers, Inc.

Submitted by Lynt at: May 23, 2011
Our children should be our 1st and primary concern, for they are our future. Quality day care, effective schooling and assistance with getting into college are essential. I would vote to remove support for tax breaks to the wealthy and assistance to non-citizens to provide care for our children. I think that about says it all.

Submitted by Grandma at: May 20, 2011
This article reveals her love and concern for the future generation. Some how we must provide for all. There is a way that we are all obligated to find.

Submitted by progwoman at: May 20, 2011
All this because our mayor can't bring himself to equitably tax his wealthy peers. They, of course, have no idea what it is like to carry on their daily lives without a full complement of assistants to cook, clean and care for children. This is not the NYC I love.