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Child care spared cuts in city budget

Concerned parents rally at the Forest Hills Child Care Center before the mayor's new budget was released. Photo courtesy Emma Woods
TimesLedger Newspapers

Child care advocates got a some good news Monday night when Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the city’s new budget will not cut child daycare and after-school programs.

Prior to the mayor’s announcement, parents, children and childcare providers rallied with the Jewish Child Care Association at the Forest Hills Child Care Center last week to stand against budget cuts to child care and after-school programs.

The mayor’s fiscal year 2013 budget called for cuts to childcare programs that would have left 47,000 children and families in the city without after-school options, according to Campaign for Children, a children’s advocacy organization, which coordinated with the JCCA to stage the rally June 19.

“I have provided high-quality family childcare in my community for years. Parents know that their children are safe, happy and learning in our care,” said Nelia Ustaeva, a Queens family childcare provider. “Why would the city want to deprive children and parents of the programs they trust and depend on, and force childcare centers to lay off dedicated employees? These cuts just don’t make sense.”

Elected officials, the Forest Hills Community and the JCCA joined Campaign for Children’s call to the mayor and the City Council to fund childcare and after-school programs in the final city budget during the protest, at 108-05 68th Road.

Richard Altman, JCCA’s chief executive officer, saidthe mayor’s potential budget cuts “Draconian” and said the elimination of these programs would have made it virtually impossible for parents to afford proper childcare.

“We need to maintain the support for critical programs that help these families survive and flourish, not eliminate them,” said Altman. “It would be devastating to the community, to the providers and the families if these cuts are enacted.”

Bloomberg and the City Council Monday agreed on a $68.5 billion 2013 budget, which spares 20 fire companies from the ax and increases funding for day-care and after-school programs.

The cuts would have closed two Beacon after-school programs, at Queens Community House, at 108-25 62nd Drive in Forest Hills, and Samuel Field YMCA, at 58-20 Little Neck Pkwy. in Little Neck. would

Campaign for Children recently conducted a survey of more than 4,000 parents and found 50 percent of parents using childcare and 36 percent of parents using after-school programs said they would quit their jobs if their children lost care, while 16 percent said they would leave their children home alone.

“Our family childcare program is more than just a safe place for my children while I’m at work — they are like family to us, and they are helping my children prepare to do well in school, said Svetlana Polvanova, whose two children are in a family child-care program in Queens.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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