Reporting Stan Brooks
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Most members of the New York City Council have signed a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg urging him to save child-care subsidies for more than 16,000 low-income children.
All but six of the 51 council members asked the mayor to rescue the 16,462 child-care slots, worth more than $90 million, that would be eliminated under his preliminary budget plan.
1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports: Councilmembers Say The Cuts Would Be Devastating
“These cuts will force many low-income working parents to make gut-wrenching choices, such as weighing whether they can afford to continue to work without subsidized child care or whether a non-licensed provider is a safe option for their children,” said the letter provided to The Associated Press on Friday by the office of Annabel Palma, chairwoman of the council’s Committee on General Welfare.
The missive comes a week before the mayor issues his final budget proposal and launches a last round of negotiations with the City Council. Both sides must agree on a balanced budget for next fiscal year by June.
“This is something I think 45 councilmembers have put their name on saying this is a critical service and it makes no sense to cut it,” Councilman Lewis Fidler told 1010 WINS. “If these parents lose their day care, lose the after school programs that go with them then they’re not going to be able to work and we’re going to lose tax money. It makes absolutely no sense.”
City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras indicated the issue could be a sticking point in budget negotiations.
“This is a priority fight for us,” she said, adding that agreeing to the child-care cuts “just wouldn’t be responsible.”
The mayor’s preliminary budget also called for the loss of more than 6,000 public school teachers from the city’s classrooms and a number of other reductions that Bloomberg has argued are necessary because of state and federal cuts.
“Unfortunately, the billions of dollars that have been cut from Albany and Washington are having very real world consequences here in the city,” said Bloomberg spokeswoman Jessica Scaperotti.
A spokesman for the federal Administration for Children and Families didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
The cuts would “have a dire effect on thousands of working families in our city, forcing parents to scramble for alternative care and preventing tens of thousands of children from getting the early education opportunities they deserve,” Palma said in a statement.
Because the city is required by federal law to provide child care to parents on public assistance and those transitioning from welfare to the work force, the proposed cuts would hit parents who have jobs but have incomes of less than twice the federal poverty level.
About 100,000 city children are currently served by the subsidies. The advocacy group Citizens’ Committee for Children says that as of 2009, another 180,000 city children under the age of 5 lived in families that qualified for the program but did not receive care.
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