NEW YORK— The city lost around $4.5 billion because of Hurricane Sandy. Plus, hundreds of millions of dollars in federal school aid and taxi permit sales also didn’t materialize.
To grapple with the loses and not have to raise already high taxes, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2014 preliminary budget proposes cutting $217.9 million in essential children’s services, such as child care, after school programs, runaway and homeless youth services, and mental health treatment.
Jennifer March-Joly of the Citizen’s Committee for Children (CCC) hopes that as budget season begins to hit its stride, parents and citizens alike will look to their elected officials for help.
The way March-Joly sees it, the city’s children are already suffering and don’t need further cuts.
New York City is home to 1.7 million children, a number that exceeds the population of many large metropolises, including Philadelphia. Keeping track of the city’s children and monitoring their wellbeing from infancy to adolescence is a lofty job, but an important one.
Using 400 measures in all five boroughs, the CCC, an independent children’s advocacy organization, released their 10th edition of “Keeping Track of New York City’s Children” on Tuesday, finding one in three New York City children lives in poverty.
Their comprehensive report showed that while the city’s economy begins to turn around, the impacts of the recession continue to be felt by city’s children. Some areas have improved, however racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities still exist.
“Ultimately, what the data suggests is our systems are not large enough to address existing need and in fact, they are shrinking,” said March-Joly, who gave a presentation of the findings at NYU Law School on Tuesday. “That has a really detrimental impact on children and families.”
Despite an ongoing financial recovery, poverty rates in the city are at 20 percent with almost 30 percent of children in poverty. Homeless populations are at record highs, over 110,000, with over 40,000 homeless children.
March-Joly noted there were positive trends, including a continued drop in infant mortality. She noted there continues to be higher percentage of African American babies over other ethnicities, an issue she attributes partially to a lack of prenatal care. Education trends continue to improve, with math and reading scores improving, higher graduation rates, and fewer dropouts, as often touted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The neighborhoods of greatest concern, not only in education, but for all issues affecting child wellbeing, are the Bronx neighborhoods of East Tremont, Morrisania and University Heights and in Brooklyn, Greenpoint/Williamsburg and Brownsville. More than half of the children living in these neighborhoods are living in poverty, an underlying issue for many of the problems children have.
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