NEW YORK—A little girl in pigtails stands beside a small boy, both holding colorful petition letters beautifully decorated with crayons.
The letters are a symbol of the 5,000-plus letters written by young day care attendees. The children delivered the petitions to City Hall on Wednesday morning to protest the mayor’s scheduled cuts for subsidized child care and Head Start programs.
“If these kids have no where to go, then people are going to stop working to look after them. If people stop working, they’re going to go on welfare,” said Joyce Mcclammy, who works at day care center Local 205. “Didn’t you say you want to get people off of welfare, Mayor Bloomberg?”
Among the group of protesters stood Lijung Chan, an assistant teacher at the Chung Pak Day Care, located on Walker St. in Chinatown.
She said a colleague of hers had a student whose parents went to register their children at the local preschool center after receiving news about the cuts. The response was, “Honey, we only have two slots open and 2,000 have been coming in to apply for that slot.”
“This is an example of how the public child care is not even enough to begin with, and now they are cutting more,” Chan said.
The Chung Pak Day Care is a part of the Chinese-American Planning Council.
Under the proposed budget cuts, the government will stop funding for the child care division of the Chinese-American Planning Council. Chan said her day care will be forced to close as a result. At least four major Chinatown day care centers will close, according to David Chen, executive director of the Chinese-American Planning Council.
“Let me illustrate to you what kind of kids we take care of,” Chan said. The center looks after a boy who wears his sister’s hand-me-down pants, a child who spends his nights at homeless shelters with his mother to avoid his abusive father, and the child of a mother who works six days a week because the father was in Iraq.
“It’s a matter of prioritization of spending,” said Charles Barron, a NYC council member.
“How come we can build Yankee stadiums, and we have money for the Mets to build an arena, but we’re shutting down senior centers and day care centers?” he said.
“This seems to be a pattern every year, where it is on the council to do extraordinary things to restore what ought to be ACS’s [New York City Administration for Children’s Services] obligation,” City Council member Stephen Levin said during the executive budget hearings at City Hall on Tuesday.
The mayor outlined a plan that achieves a balanced budget—closing a $2 billion budget gap without tax increases. A balanced budget will be finalized on June 30.
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