Brooklyn kids rally against child-care budget cuts

On Thursday morning, hundreds of Brooklyn kids joined more than 500 children from after-school programs across the city at a rally outside City Hall to urge the Mayor not to cut 47,000 slots from child care and after-school programs.

The Mayor’s preliminary budget for fiscal year 2014 would slash more than $130 million from these programs, serving mostly low-income families.

At the rally, hundreds of children from city after-school programs, including many from the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) network joined parents and advocates from the Campaign for Children, a coalition of more than 150 child care and after-school advocacy and providers. FPWA is one of the city's largest social service support organizations.

“Our after-school program provides my son with opportunities I couldn’t afford to give him otherwise,” said Lissette Placencia, a parent from SCO’s Center for Family Life, Brooklyn. “I can’t imagine what I’d do if our after-school program is forced to close.”

“These programs provide them with the instruction, guidance, and tools to help them reach their full potential,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO/Executive Director of FPWA. “Our event is about spring and celebrating how children and youth grow and flourish from early childhood education and after-school programs. We call on our city leaders to invest in these supports because we want our children to continue to blossom.”

Last year the City Council provided $120 million for the centers with one-year, discretionary money that will run out in June.

This year’s budget cuts an additional $10 million from the Out-of-School Time (OST) after-school programs, an after-school initiative created by Mayor Bloomberg himself in 2005. The cuts will eliminate slots for more than 3,600 children.

“After-school means that I get help with my homework, music and art lessons, and other activities that help me be a better student and member of my community,” said Anthony Li, from the Chinese American Planning Council, Manhattan.

“Where will my friends and I go after school if we don’t have our after-school program?” said Kayla Watson, from the YWCA at P.S. 329, Brooklyn.

“If the City closes our after-school program, my daughter will be home alone until I get home from work at night. I’m afraid she’ll fall behind in school, and stay behind,” added Moraima Cruz, a parent from the YWCA at P.S. 329.