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UFT blasts mayor for ‘reckless’ child care cuts

Tammie Miller at press conference Cara Metz

UFT Family Child Care Providers Chapter Chair Tammie Miller, flanked by UFT President Michael Mulgrew, accuses Mayor Bloomberg of shirking his responsibility to protect children.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew accused Mayor Bloomberg of turning his back on 16,000 low-income families by failing to include $104 million in the budget for subsidized child care.

At a press conference on the steps of City Hall on March 29, child care activists and community, union and political leaders protested the cut as unacceptable.

“These reckless cuts affect children who will miss out on early childhood education and their low-income working parents who can’t afford child care on their own and consequently might have to leave the work force,” said Mulgrew.

Tammie Miller, the chair of the UFT Family Child Care Providers Chapter, accused the mayor of failing the moral test of government by abdicating his responsibility to protect the most vulnerable.

“We need a mayor who understands the working poor and the value of a dollar and a hard day’s work,” she said. “We need a mayor who cares not just for billionaires but for the millions of hard-working citizens who pay taxes.”

By caring for and educating thousands of preschool children from low-income families, the 21,000 licensed home-based child care providers permit parents to hold full-time jobs knowing their children are in safe and competent hands, Miller said.

City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras called it shameful that the mayor is proposing to cut subsidized care for the fifth straight year in a row.

Pointing out that only Council members — not the mayor — can vote on the final budget, Councilman Charles Barron called on his colleagues to say no. “Just say no to anything that hurts children,” he challenged.

Luce Santiago, the director of Field Services for District Council 1707, which represents workers in city day care centers, spoke of the particular impact of the cut on working women who can’t afford to quit their jobs but worry, “Is my child safe?”

In testimony before the City Council General Welfare Committee later in the afternoon, Miller also stressed that affordable, quality care leads to better educational outcomes in both the short and long term.

Citing the city’s own estimate that only 27 percent of children who are income-eligible for subsidized child care receive subsidies, she suggested that the city tap other potential revenue streams such as Wall Street profits and corporate tax loopholes to restore the funding.

Miller also asked the Council to restore funding for Provider’s Choice, which gave child care providers $150 each year to purchase child care supplies, “so that the current providers who are still standing after weathering the storm of the recession won’t have to pay out-of-pocket for supplies when they are struggling on a shoestring budget.”

Read Miller’s full remarks.

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