Child Care Advocates Want Pre-K Baseline in Budget

By Kristen Meriwether, Epoch Times
November 13, 2013 Updated: November 13, 2013

NEW YORK—For the past several years, young children have flocked to the steps of City Hall to protest proposed budget cuts to child care and after-school programs.

Each year the City Council successfully uses discretionary funding to save nearly all the programs for another year, but parents and teachers have grown tired of the tradition, affectionately known as the “budget dance.”

Child care advocates once again took to the steps of City Hall on Wednesday, this time asking for support from mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to end the dance.

“This system cannot remain dependent on successful advocacy annually and the restoration of one-year funds,” said Jennifer March, executive director of Citizen’s Committee for Children. Her organization is one of 150 advocacy-and-provider organizing groups making up Campaign for Children—a group that has been fighting budget cuts to child care since 2011.

The group wants to see $150 million of funding in the budget baseline, taking it off the chopping block and keeping it funded permanently. The money would provide child care and after school for over 47,000 children, according to Campaign for Children.

The mayor will set his budget based on priorities, and de Blasio has made it no secret he wants to see pre-K programs expanded. He has called on a tax hike for those making $500,000 or more to fund pre-K for all children, which will require approval from the State Legislature.

The budget money would be used to fund current child care levels, and does not include de Blasio’s expansion of pre-K.

“This is the economic development issue of this decade. It is critical for us to invest in these programs,” March said. “We know they prepare children for academic success and success in life.”

Epoch Times reached out to de Blasio’s campaign to see if he would agree to the requests, but his campaign did not return a request by press time.