ACS mismanagement hurts providers again

The city’s overhaul of subsidized early childhood education services, dubbed EarlyLearn NYC, is wreaking havoc for family child care providers in yet another example of poor management and shameful ineptitude by the Bloomberg administration.

The intent of the ambitious overhaul was to streamline the process for providing subsidized family child care services for working families through consolidation of the networks contracted by the city’s Administration for Children’s Services to provide them. Instead of making the process more efficient, a bureaucratic mess ensued and has left about 1,750 providers, or two-thirds of all providers working for networks, displaced as a result of networks closing.

Many providers from the closed networks haven’t received final paychecks for months of work. Also, none of the providers working for the continuing child care networks has been paid since Oct. 1 and they might not be paid for untold additional weeks even though the providers continue to care for children.

This situation is an outrage, and it could have been easily avoided with a little foresight and proper management. Contracts for only two of the 29 child care networks working with the city have been submitted to the city comptroller for certification. The holdup of the contracts leaves the networks without funds to pay the providers.

Proper planning by ACS could have allowed more time for the agency to issue network contracts and have them approved by the comptroller’s office. But once again, the city drops the ball through its bureaucratic bungling, and the providers — as well as the children and parents they help — are left to deal with the resulting mess.

The city cannot simply shrug with indifference and tell the providers to wait to be paid. ACS and the Bloomberg administration should take whatever steps are necessary to expedite the network contract approvals and get the overdue payments to providers immediately because city excuses don’t pay their expenses. Many providers are struggling to keep their sorely needed and underfunded programs afloat, and the city should be helping them instead of hurting them with its incompetence.

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