Budget breakthrough restores cuts to day care and after-school programs

June 26, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

To the relief of thousands of the city’s families, the City Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have brokered a budget agreement that restores millions of dollars in child care and after-school programs cuts.

Parents and advocates have been protesting the draconian budget cuts proposed by the mayor, which would have eliminated tens of thousands of child care spots and after-school slots on top of cuts to libraries and other family service providers.

According to the mayor’s office, the agreement will allow the city to increase the total number of teachers in the school system this coming year by roughly 1,000 teachers, and maintain overall funding levels to schools. In addition, the budget actually adds more funds for after-school programs and city libraries.

“We’re thrilled for the kids in the many outstanding programs that were so successful for so many years,” Jim O’Neill, President of SASF (Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation), told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday. SASF is the largest provider of after-school programming in the city.

“We won’t know until tomorrow the final list of restored programs, but we’re very confident that they will all be restored.” O’Neill thanked the mayor, the speaker and “the many thousands of parents who were very active in fighting these cuts. We delivered to City Hall 3,700 postcards from parents.”

“I’m happy for the mayor,” he added. “This program won major awards; it’s one of the jewels of the Bloomberg administration. I’m very puzzled why he proposed these cuts in the executive budget. And I’m amazed at the outpouring of support from families it was huge.”

"Working parents need to have their children protected and cared for while they are at work,” said Speaker Christine Quinn in a statement. ”Children need to receive a high quality educational experience at an early age. We are creating a program that responds to both of these needs.”

 “We’re grateful that New York City’s leaders put children first in a difficult budget year, and look forward to working with them to create stable, sustainable systems going forward,” said a statement from advocacy group Campaign for Children.

The relief was immediate but some questioned why the city’s families and service providers had to be dragged through months of budget uncertainty.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio took a less conciliatory tone. “We are immensely relieved that working families will not face the worst cuts to child care and after-school programs in memory. This is a hard-earned victory for the thousands of parents and advocates who stared down the mayor’s attempt to dismantle a system so many kids rely upon.

“Even with restorations, this year’s budget dance has taken a toll on a system worn thin by years of cuts,” he added. “Parents have already received letters in the mail telling them they’ve lost child care. Providers have had to tell staff their jobs are on the chopping block.”

The budget was enhanced by $150 million the city received from a settlement with ING Bank stemming from a joint federal and state investigation into compliance with United States sanctions against Iran, Cuba and other countries, the Mayor’s Office said.

The city was also able to save millions through low interest rates and jacked up permits, licenses and fees.

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