PRESS RELEASE: Queens Rallies to Save After-School & Child Care Programs
For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 30, 2015
Contact: Emma Woods, email@example.com, 646-200-5303
Queens Families & Elected Officials Rally to Keep After-School and Child Care Programs from Closing
Four After-School Programs in Queens, Serving More than 400 Children, will Close in June if Not Restored in the Budget
New Maps Show Programs Slated for Closure are in High-Need Neighborhoods
Queens, NY – Parents, youth, and teachers from Queens after-school and early childhood education programs rallied with Council Member and Queens Delegation Leader Mark Weprin, Council Member and Chair of the Youth Services Committee Mathieu Eugene, and advocates from the Campaign for Children at Queens Borough Hall Thursday to keep their programs from closing.
The contracts for 17 after-school programs, including four in Queens, end on June 30, 2015 – meaning the loss of after-school programs for 1,882 children, including 435 children in Queens, if $5.9M is not allocated in the budget. 2,300 additional elementary after-school slots are slated to be eliminated unless $7.7 million is allocated to save them.
In addition to the after-school programs, early childhood education programs are at risk as well. Parents, teachers, and children from the Sheltering Arms Malcolm X Day Care Center in Corona attended the rally; their program is at risk of closing because the City hasn’t committed to renewing their lease or finding an alternative location in the community that does not lead to a loss of capacity.
“After-school has impacted my son in ways that his regular day school cannot. He’s able to finally receive many extra curricular activities that help him to grow as an individual. For instance, he’s able to receive dance lessons, take science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes, and create a bond with other students in the school. I know my son is truly happy because he never wants to miss a day of after-school – and that makes me a happy mom,” Emily Hafford, a pre-K teacher and the parent of a third grader at the Queens Community House program at PS 117.
“In after-school they take care of us. My Mom and Dad have to work, and we have no babysitter. In after-school I have a place to interact with people. We get time to do homework, and we can finish it peacefully with the help of others. We get activities to keep us going, to get us active and have friends to play with. We are in a safe and playful place,” said Mirza and Aamina Baig, fourth graders at the program.
“Some parents go to work and they have nowhere to leave their child. If I wasn’t in after-school, I would stay at the late table until someone picked me up. We get homework help, a lot of fun projects, and arts and craft projects too,” said Iryna Sulyma, a fifth grader at the program.
Recently released maps from Citizens’ Committee for Children, a member of the Campaign for Children, show that the 17 sites are located in communities with the highest need. Nearly all of the communities that will lose an after‐ school program are ones where children score below average on the reading and math tests, and where families and children live at or below poverty.
“Last year, my colleagues and I in the City Council worked long and tirelessly with Mayor de Blasio and youth advocates to successfully expand both pre-kindergarten and after-school programs. These programs have consistently proven to enhance the academic performance of our children and establish a solid educational foundation that benefits them throughout the course of their lives. As the Chair of the Youth Services Committee, I urge the administration to provide the funds necessary to ensure that our early childhood and after-school programs are strong and restored to full capacity,” said Council Member and Chair of the Youth Services Committee Mathieu Eugene.
“After school programs are vital to families across Queens. They keep children safe and engaged after school while allowing parents to work,” said Council Member Mark S. Weprin (D-Queens), Chair of the Queens Delegation of the New York City Council.
“We know that the City is committed to providing more high-quality after-school opportunities for children – that’s why we’re urging them not to let a single program close, especially not in neighborhoods that need them most,” said Sharon Levy, Vice President of Public Affairs at the YMCA of Greater New York, and a member of the Campaign for Children.
To ensure that these programs stay open and that the final City Budget supports quality, stability, and increased capacity across the early childhood education and after-school systems, the Campaign for Children has also launched an online advocacy campaign. By clicking HERE, New Yorkers can urge City officials to take immediate action.
ABOUT CAMPAIGN FOR CHILDREN:
The Campaign for Children is a coalition of 150 early childhood education and after-school advocacy and provider organizations, including Citizens’ Committee for Children, The Children’s Aid Society, United Neighborhood Houses NY, Good Shepherd Services, Neighborhood Family Services Coalition, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Children’s Defense Fund-NY, Day Care Council of New York, UJA-Federation of New York, and YMCA of Greater New York. 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 two consecutive years, which then were successfully baselined.