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AFSCME Marchers Demand City Save Childcare Centers

April 30, 2010

Thousands of New York City day care and Head Start employees
MARCHING FOR THE CHILDREN – Thousands of child care workers, parents and advocates marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on April 21 to oppose the planned closure of daycare and Head Start centers and classrooms this summer. Shown leading them are Raglan George Jr., executive director of AFSCME’s District Council 1707, and DC 1707 Pres. Kim Medina. (Photo credit: Neal Tepel)

Thousands of New York City day care and Head Start employees represented by AFSCME District Council 1707 are building public support to stop the city from closing facilities this June and displacing some 1,800 children whose parents depend on their services.

Chanting, “We need our day care,” more than 2,000 parents, children, supporters and members of DC 1707’s Head Start Local 95 and Day Care Employees Local 205 marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on April 21 from Cadman Plaza Park to City Hall. There, at an event billed as a “Day of Outrage for New York City Child Care,” they demanded that officials of the city’s Administration for Children’s Services:

  • Drop plans to close 16 day care centers and 31 day care classrooms, plus 12 Head Start centers this summer.
  • End a four-year impasse and negotiate a fair contract for public day care employees.
  • Approve a cost of living increase for Head Start employees.
  • Stop two flawed anti-union programs, “Project Full Enrollment,” which awards funds on the basis of attendance and enrollment, and EarlyLearn NYC, which allows for-profit contractors to run childcare.
     

“The reduction of early childhood programs for children is now a legacy of this administration,” declared DC 1707 Executive Director Raglan George Jr., also an AFSCME International vice president. “Since 2003, over 3,000 slots from day care centers were eliminated, stopping thousands of children from attending quality child care programs.”

Closing the 16 day care centers would affect more than 1,100 children and about 320 employees. About 110 employees work at the 31 targeted day care classrooms, where some 600 children are enrolled.

City officials have claimed the centers they wish to close are located in “gentrifying” communities where wealthier people are buying properties once occupied by lower-income residents. But DC 1707 points to enrollment/capacity figures that reveal facilities near the targeted day care centers cannot take in all the affected children (ages 2 through 4) between now and June 30.

DC 1707 officials also contend the city currently can serve only 27 percent of low-income children eligible for child care and Head Start programs. Closing more facilities – and transferring the children to crowded public schools or other centers – makes no sense, George contends.

“As the economic downturn worsens, the need will only grow,” he says. “We cannot afford to lose any of the city’s child care capacity.”

Read more about the “Day of Outrage” march in the Epoch Times and the Brooklyn Eagle. More on DC 1707’s efforts to protect New York’s children services can be found here and here.

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