Accountability for Childcare Programs Serving Low-income Children Under New Bill

Accountability for Childcare Programs Serving Low-income Children Under New Bill
New York, NY— The New York City Administration for Child Services (ACS) which oversees the largest city childcare system in the nation, would become increasingly transparent and accountable under a new City Council bill introduced by Ben Kallos and Stephen Levin. ACS-subsidized childcare programs, serving around 120,000 low-income children annually, have been plagued by under-enrollment and daycare center closures. Though there are up to 40 eligible students for every one childcare slot, some ACS childcare programs still report 20% vacancy rates, according to City LimitsGovernment, the public and watchdog groups would have access to more detailed information on the programs under the new bill.
The Council bill requires reporting on:
  • Closure of childcare centers
  • Steps taken to prevent closures
  • Notification to children and staff
  • Efforts to transition employees to new childcare centers
  • Changes in procedure regarding eligibility for subsidized childcare
  • Average time elapsed between application to ACS
  • Placement in childcare by borough
  • The number of children using subsidized childcare sorted by those using additional preventive services and those in foster care.
The reporting would break down the number of enrolled children by their age group and type of service received, and would also list the number of available spots sortable by borough, zipcode and council district as well as the number of universal pre-k seats offered through ACS.

"As rents go up, subsidized daycare that serve our city's poorest children get squeezed out. As part of our push towards universal pre-k and increased childcare, subsidized programs through the Administration for Children's Services must be protected so kids most in need get a fair shot. I believe that more data will help standardize city procedures towards our childcare programs and protect those in danger of closing," said Council Member Ben Kallos.

“Families depend on our children care system to be of the highest quality. I am proud to sponsor this legislation and look forward to working with ACS, Council Member Kallos, and advocates to help make sure our child care system is transparent and held accountable," said Council Member Stephen Levin.

"I applaud Council Members Kallos and Levin for their bill requiring ACS to publicize information that will offer real insight on our city's child care providers' ability to effectively deliver services to our children, enable stakeholders to gauge how effectively ACS is supporting those providers, and ensure our working families have open access to early childhood education. I am proud to support this bill," saidCouncil Member Ruben Wills.

ACS has faced a series of daycare closures in recent years, including the Children's Liberation Day Care Center in Manhattan's East Village and Lucille Murray Child Development Center in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. The Washington Heights Childcare Center nearly closed in 2012 before a last-minute intervention by the City Council. Some that remain are under strain and in danger of closing: 83% of EarlyLearn schools—a city program designed to standardize the quality of subsidized childcare for infants through preschool—reported struggling with costs in a survey taken by Campaign for Children NYC

"Publicly available child care data, detailing how many children of each age group are being served and where, including vulnerable children in the child welfare and homeless systems, provides invaluable information for public officials, advocates, providers and New Yorkers.  A big thank you to Council Members Kallos and Levin for their efforts to draft and introduce this bill.  CCC looks forward to working with the City Council and the Administration to ensure that this bill is passed and that the data is used to preserve and expand child care capacity throughout New York City," said Stephanie Gendell, Associate Executive Director, Policy and Government Relations, Citizens’ Committee for Children.

"District Council 1707 understands the critical need for the Administration for Children’s Services to be more responsive to parents, children and the employees of public center-based child care centers in relation to funding and closures,” saidVictoria Mitchell, Executive Director of District Council 1707 AFSCME.  “The proposed City Council legislation goes a long way to restore New York City’s public child care; the nation’s largest and most comprehensive. These life-altering decisions for our communities cannot be based only on bureaucratic objectives.  These decisions must be based on the educational impacts these decisions will have on children from communities of need and the necessity of safe, affordable and quality child care for poor and working parents to be able to raise their families and participate in the city’s economy."