Consider these facts: One half of New York City parents say they would feel forced to quit their job if their child no longer had access to child care. More than a third of New York City parents say they would feel forced to quit their job if their child no longer had access to after-school programs.
But despite the clear importance of these programs, The mayor's FY2013 Executive Budget would cut subsidized child care and after-school programs for the fifth straight year.
In a struggling economy, keeping these programs fully funded should be a priority for New York City. The mayor's proposed cuts have real consequences for real families -- over 46,000 of them this year, many of whom are New York City's neediest. One in three children in New York and two in three public school children already live in poverty. Following this year's reductions, 77,000 families living in public housing will not have access to subsidized child care and after school programs.
The positive economic effects of child care and after-school programs are just as apparent. Single mothers with young children who receive child care assistance are 40 percent more likely to be employed after two years. Former welfare recipients receiving child care assistance are 82 percent more likely to be employed after two years. Additionally, for every $1 invested in after-school programs, there is a $12 return in saved social and public service costs.
Not only is there an economic benefit, but, more importantly, child care and after-school programs work. Without early childhood education, children are more likely to fall behind before they even start school. Children who participate in quality early childhood education show better physical activity, decreased substance abuse, decreased rates of obesity, more responsible sexual behavior, higher rates of immunization, lower rates of tobacco use, lower rates of injury and violence, better mental health and increased access to health care. These cuts will deny these children a better life in every aspect.
In this economic climate, budget trimming is inevitable. But we cannot place the burden on the backs of New York City's neediest. Consider EarlyLearn NYC, a new initiative with incredible potential. It consolidates several programs and funding sources for early childhood education to create a streamlined system that provides more money per child along with enhanced services. Unfortunately, while the investment per child increased, the total dollars for the program did not, resulting in a loss of 5,500 slots.
The negative effects of these cuts are endless and exponential. Mayor Bloomberg and City Council must restore the funding in their final budget agreement.