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Mayor’s child care changes would bring ‘chaos’

EarlyLearn NYC would cost 2,300 provider jobs, 8,000 seats for children

Rosita Chase of the UFT’s Family Child Care Providers Chapter would find her net Miller Photography

Rosita Chase of the UFT’s Family Child Care Providers Chapter would find her network shut down should Mayor Bloomberg’s reorganization go through.

The UFT, the family child care providers represented by the union and child care advocates are up in arms about major changes to city-subsidized child care set in motion by Mayor Bloomberg.

Unless he is stopped, Bloomberg’s ambitious reorganization of the city’s child care services, dubbed EarlyLearn NYC, will go into effect on Oct. 1, leaving as many as 2,300 providers without work and thousands of young children forced into new child care settings.

Under EarlyLearn, which the Bloomberg administration claims will increase the quality of early childhood education in the city, many local child care networks that currently receive city dollars to provide family child care will lose their contracts and other center-based networks, many of which have never offered family child care services, will step into the breach.

It is unclear what will happen to family child care providers who work for networks that lose their contracts.

Tammie Miller, the chair of the UFT’s Family Child Care Providers Chapter, said the changes will result in “chaos” for children and parents and “great pain and economic difficulty” for providers left out in the cold.

Miller also blasted the plan for its projected impact on the availability of subsidized child care in the city: Under EarlyLearn, the overall number of seats in subsidized child care programs — both family and center-based — will be reduced by almost 8,000.

“In these difficult economic times, we need more subsidized child care, not less,” Miller said. “Mayor Bloomberg is out of touch with this city’s poor and working parents. How are they supposed to go to work if they lose their child care?”

EarlyLearn also restricts the age of children who can attend family child care programs, with all four-year-olds whose parents receive child care subsidies now required to attend day care centers instead.

“It’s a slap in the face to providers, and it is cruel to the children,” Miller said. “As providers, we are like family for the children in our care — and now those children are going to be taken away and sent to centers? It will be very upsetting to them.”

Ozone Park provider Melinda Hardin described the devastating impact that the closure of her network, the Afro-American Parents Educational Center II, at the end of June will have on the parents in her program. Many of them are immigrants, Hardin said, and they now face a terrible choice if they cannot make alternate arrangements for child care by July: abandon their jobs to care for their children or send them to live with relatives abroad.

“There are parents who don’t even know if they’ll be able to go to work in July,” she said.

Hardin said that she may lose her home as a result of the closure because child care is her sole source of income. She said that other providers in the network, many of whom are single parents, fear that they will be unable to pay their mortgages, car loans or their children’s college tuitions.

Hardin’s message to the mayor was simple.

“Instead of worrying about building new stadiums and waterfront properties, I wish he would put the same energy into early education,” she said. “For him, it’s about the numbers and the money. It’s not about the people. If it was, he wouldn’t be doing this.”

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