Threats to childcare and afterschool programs are a staple of the New York City budgeting process: Each year, the mayor proposes major cuts to the programs. And each year, advocates for low-income kids fight back, lobbying the mayor and City Council to restore funding.
The annual “budget dance” between the mayor and the City Council ultimately affects a very small portion of the city’s $70 billion spending plan, but it usually centers on issues that impact many lives. This year, the mayor has proposed cuts not only to childcare and afterschool, but also fire houses, libraries, parks, and more. Most of them will stir up the Council. Doug Turetsky of the NYC Independent Budget Office has a useful post describing the annual ritual here.
From 2007-2011, the childcare and afterschool program advocates (and, arguably, New York City families) lost ground: The city cut more than 40,000 subsidized slots.
Last year, Mayor Bloomberg put 47,000 more slots on the chopping block in his 2012-2013 budget proposal. The slots were saved, in large part, due to the work of a new coalition of advocates for children, who argued that childcare and afterschool programs are essential to keep kids safe, give them educational opportunities, and allow their parents to work.
This year, the slots face the guillotine once again, with a $60 million cut to afterschool programs in Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed budget, and another $77 million to child care services.
The Citizen’s Committee for Children of New York is circulating a petition to restore the funding. Speaker Christine Quinn has not yet announced her plans to respond, but the Council’s budget dance with the mayor still has three months to play out… before a deal is done in June.