Huge crowd protests budget cuts to child care

April 29, 2012 Denise Romano
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Nearly a thousand parents came out to a rally at P.S. 503/506 on April 20 to protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget cuts to after-school and child care programs.

If the mayor’s budget changes pass – which they have for the past five years — more than 47,000 children will lose access to vital after-school and child care services. This issue hits especially close to home in Sunset Park, a community made up of working families and which has lost child services over the past year, including the sudden shut-down of the Sunset Park Early Childhood Development Center.

Organizations such as Campaign for Children, Occupy Sunset Park, Council of Neighborhood Organizations and Center for Family Life, sponsored an evening of performances, speakers and other entertainment. Parents also received early enrollment applications to summer camps at P.S. 1 and P.S. 503/506.

Cynthia Montalvo was one of the many parents who attended. She is a working mother with two children, ages six and 11, who attend P.S. 212 in Gravesend, and also attends classes at Touro College. With her busy schedule, she said that the after-school program is, “Stupendously important.

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“At their camp, they learn about teamwork. It molds them into good children,” Montalvo said, adding that she works until 6 p.m. and the after-care program they attend ends at 7 p.m., giving her enough time to pick them up.

“I like my camp and I want to go back next year,” added her daughter, Paris Jackson.

“We are here to support these moms and dads who have to work, so our kids have a place to go after school and on weekends,” said Isabel Morales, a member of Campaign for Children. “It’s not just a community of immigrants – it’s about investing in our future. All these kids belong to all of us.”

“We are a group in the community that has been struggling and fighting back on cutbacks, particularly education,” said Ted Auerbach, a member of Occupy Sunset Park. “We know what a disgrace this is. We know all the needs of the community are desperate. Working parents can’t work if they have no place to bring their kids to during the summer.”

Stephanie Lebron is a volunteer at one of the afterschool programs. “It’s really important – some parents don’t have child care,” she said. “We do homework help and give them experiences they wouldn’t get at home.”

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