Release: C4C Testifies at General Welfare Committee Budget Hearing
CAMPAIGN FOR CHILDREN TESTIFIES AT COUNCIL GENERAL WELFARE COMMITTEE BUDGET HEARING
Applauds End of Yearly Budget Dance & Cites Campaign For Children Transition Plan As Roadmap For Developing A High-Quality, Universal System of Early Childhood and After-School Programs
Presses Council To Address ACS’s Structural Deficit And Stabilize Childcare System For Children Ages 0 to 3
New York, NY – Campaign for Children, the coalition of over 150 New York City provider and advocacy organizations that has worked together over the past two years to preserve, restore, baseline and now expand resources for child care and after-school programs, testified this afternoon at the City Council General Welfare and Women’s Issues Preliminary Budget hearing.
In their testimony, Campaign members applauded the end to the yearly budget dance and cited the Campaign for Children Transition Plan as a roadmap for developing a high-quality, universal system of early childhood and after-school programs. The influx of funding for full-day UPK for four-year olds creates tremendous opportunities to advance a holistic approach to early education in which both UPK and child care are strong, stable and provide high quality services to children and families.
Members also pressed the Committee to address the Administration for Children’s Services’ structural deficit that threatens the stability of child care system for children age 0 to 3. ACS’s child care budget is unable to sustain both its contracted system (which services low-income working families) and the increasingly costly federally mandated voucher system for families on or transitioning off of public assistance. This will likely require additional funding for ACS’s budget in the Executive Budget.
The Transition Plan can be found at: http://goo.gl/W8Mwtm
The following are excerpts from today’s Campaign for Children testimony:
Stephanie Gendell of Citizens’ Committee for Children:
After many years of budget cuts and the disruption caused by the EarlyLearn RFP, the expansion of full day pre-k gives us an opportunity to stabilize and strengthen ACS’s subsidized child care and Head Start system. We must seize this opportunity in a manner that ensures ACS no longer carries a structural budget deficit, expands early childhood access for children 0-3, improves the quality of the programming available for all young children, compensates and supports the workforce appropriately, and ensures programs are fiscally solvent and able to thrive.
While the Fiscal Year 2015 Preliminary Budget does not have any cuts to the child care system, ACS still has a structural deficit in its child care budget. We believe that stabilizing the child care system requires the Administration to permanently resolve ACS’s structural deficit and ensure providers and their staff are adequately compensated. This will likely require funding to be added to ACS’s budget in the Executive Budget.
For years, we have seen that ACS’s child care budget is unable to sustain both its contracted system and the increasingly costly voucher system. Typically, the voucher system is for the “mandated” population, meaning families on or transitioning off of public assistance, for whom federal law requires they receive child care…The children in the contracted system typically come from low-income working families—exactly the families we would want to have child care so they can remain in the workforce.
Gregory Brender of United Neighborhood Houses
United Neighborhood Houses strongly supports Mayor de Blasio’s plan to expand Universal Pre-Kindergarten and middle school after-school UNH and its member agencies have been working hard in Albany and in their communities to support the Mayor’s plan to make school day UPK truly universal. This important expansion needs to be envisioned as only one critical part of a larger, more complex system serving children and their families ages pre-natal through age 4 and their families.
We believe that with early childhood education now front and center for the de Blasio administration, ACS has a rare opportunity to begin the project of building the early childhood system that we know NYC’s children and families need and deserve.
Patti Banghart, The Children’s Defense Fund- New York:
CDF-NY fully supports the Mayor’s plan to provide free, high-quality and universal pre-kindergarten to all of New York City’s four year-olds and after-school programs to all middle school children. We believe that the Mayor’s plan should be fully funded to guarantee the $530 million dollars needed annually to universally serve over 73,000 four year-olds and nearly 120,000 middle school students.
The City’s subsidy system however, remains underfunded. ACS’s capacity has continued to decrease since 2006 with an enrollment of 116,355, down to 95,977 in 2012. Additionally, there is a growing demand for vouchers for families receiving public assistance which in turn has reduced the funding for and capacity of contracted slots in EarlyLearn. Between 2012 and 2014, contracted enrollment fell twenty-five percent. The contracted and mandated voucher systems should not be competing budget priorities—both are essential. We propose that additional funding be added so that both systems can operate at needed capacity.
Currently, there is a shortage of quality infant and toddler care in the city. We recommend that ACS funding for four-year olds that will be saved with the implementation of universal pre-K be used for the expansion of quality infant and toddler care.
ABOUT CAMPAIGN FOR CHILDREN:
Campaign for Children is a partnership between the Emergency Coalition to Save Children Care and the New York City Youth Alliance, which first came together in 2011 to stave off severe budget cuts proposed for child care and after-school programs. Together, the 150 members of the coalition include many of the advocates, civic leaders and early childhood education and after-school providers in New York City.
The Campaign’s successful advocacy saved child care and after-school programs for more than 47,000 children by securing more than $120 million of one-year City Council discretionary funds for the past two years, which then were successfully baselined. While the Campaign, the providers, and notably the children and the families remain incredibly grateful that these programs were saved through extensive advocacy efforts, the critical systems upon which children and families rely cannot remain dependent on annual advocacy efforts to survive.
Every child in New York City deserves access to safe, high-quality, and affordable and dependable early childhood education and after-school programs. New York City’s newly elected Mayor, as well as the Comptroller, Public Advocate and City Council members, must have a plan to create high-quality, sustainable, fully-funded early education and after-school systems for New York’s children and families. Enacting this plan must be a top priority for the new Administration. The Campaign for Children seeks to be a partner in this endeavor, but also to hold the Administration accountable for its implementation.