Queens Community House Beacon Program Parents, Children, Advocates and Elected Officials Rally to Save Child Care and After-School
Queens Community House Beacon Program
Parents, Children, Advocates and Elected Officials Rally to Save Child Care and After-School
Queens Community House Beacon Program Serving More Than 1300 Will Close in July if the Mayor’s Budget Cuts Are Enacted
Queens, NY – With the Mayor’s preliminary budget proposing to cut more than 47,000 children from child care and after-school programs, Queens Community House Beacon Program parents, children, advocates and elected officials rallied Tuesday evening to urge Mayor Bloomberg to fully fund child care and after-school in his Executive Budget and stop their beloved Beacon program from being forced to shut its doors in July.
Earlier this month, the Queens Community House Beacon Program was notified by the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) that, due to budget cuts, it would be forced to close on July 1. Queens Community House Beacon Program serves more than 1300 people from the Queens community, and is one of seven nationally-celebrated youth programs that are the first victims of the Mayor’s cuts to child care and after-school programs.
“The Queens Community House Beacon Program offers high-quality programming for our young people – including helping with academics, providing arts and music programming and other activities that help children succeed in school and beyond,” said Patrick Pinchinat, Queens Community House Beacon Program Director. “If our Beacon program shuts its doors because of the Mayor’s budget cuts to child care and after-school, our youth will have nowhere to go and this community will be devastated.”
Instituted in 1991, NYC’s 80 Beacon programs serve communities’ needs utilizing a neighborhood-based approach. Beacons operate after school, on weekends, school holidays, and throughout the summer, serving mainly middle school youth. The Beacon model is recognized nationally as a premier program for positive youth development and has been replicated in over 10 cities around the country. Beacon programs work to prevent drop-outs in high school by focusing on academic enhancement, life skills, career awareness/school-to-work transition, civic engagement/community building, recreation/health and fitness and culture/art. Each Beacon Program serves over 800 children, youth and adults.
“The Queens Community House Beacon Program provides my son with opportunities I couldn’t give him otherwise – help with academics, exposure to arts and music programming and other activities that help him succeed in school,” said Tonia Calvo, parent of an 11 yr old son who participates in the Beacon program. “If our Beacon program closes, I’m losing a safe and educational place for my son to be while I work – and that’s a tragedy.”
ABOUT THE CUTS
After years of cuts that have dramatically decreased working families’ access to children’s and youth services, the Mayor is once again proposing devastating cuts to both child care and after-school programs in his FY 2013 budget. The Mayor’s Preliminary Budget, coupled with changes from the EarlyLearn NYC and Out-of-school Time (OST) RFPs, would eliminate 15,900 child care slots and slash after-school program capacity for 31,800 children. All told, more than 47,000 children and their families will lose access to these essential programs. This is the fifth straight year that the Mayor has cut child care and after-school programs. Added to year after year of cuts, the Mayor’s latest proposal will result in 90,000 fewer children having access to these programs than in 2009 – a 61% decrease.
The Bloomberg Administration’s failure to fund these core services is a disturbing departure from its stated desire to make education reforms and economic development the Mayor’s top priorities and the foundation of his legacy. As the Mayor himself recently stated, “what happens after the final school bell of the day rings is as important to students as what goes on in the classrooms.” Both child care and after-school programs provide children with critical educational opportunities that pave the way for future success, and allow parents to maintain jobs and support their families while their children receive safe, affordable care.
The Mayor is taking notable steps to restructure the child care and after-school systems to increase the quality of the programs citywide – but is, at the same time, cutting funding significantly so that the programs will serve a fraction of the children.