Sunday, March 2, 2008

NYC Admin for Children Services Has Centers at Each Other's Throats

A November 2007 letter from ACS Commissioner Robert Mattingly says all center- and family-based providers have until April 30, 2008 to be enrolled to license capacity—no excuses. Publicly funded childcare services all over the city face closing, sponsor board merging or sharing space with other centers if they can’t meet the goal. This situation is similar to the closings and mergers experienced by public high schools. ACS Office of Child Care and Head Start keeps centers abreast of enrollment status by sending monthly counts. Childcare is a major employer in NYC. Closings affect thousands of low- and moderate-income families and childcare staff.

Here in the Gowanus community, it has become a competitive situation. Centers use various tactics to meet the goal. Some centers with infant care instruct new families to move their preschoolers from their current care providers to theirs in order to get service for their babies. “This is disruptive for the preschoolers and reduces our numbers,” states an unnamed local center worker. Some providers resort to low rating other centers and suggesting the possibility of religious instruction at certain publicly funded centers. The fact is ACS-funded programs can’t provide such instruction. Communities experiencing gentrification have racism and classism rearing their heads. Centers that have operated for decades in a community now are questioned about their innovation and ability to care for children from more affluent families.

Bethel Baptist Day Care Center, a 35-year-old community institution, made changes in teaching staff and, now, boasts of NYS certified teachers and assistant teachers who passed the NYS Assistant Teacher examination. “We focus on continuous quality improvement in teaching, nutrition, sanitation, safety and recreation,” says Carlene Smith, Bethel’s education director. “Our staff distributes flyers throughout the area to families, local schools and community centers. We’re proud of their commitment.” Rather than take the low road, Bethel Baptist Day Care Center gets prospects from current and past families.
Rising above competitiveness, all centers agree that the new requirement for single parents to petition for child support and reduced staffing within ACS Resource Areas are major obstacles. Day Care Council of NYC has publicly raised these issues in recent months. Centers like Bethel will hold open houses and extend a year-round invitation to spend the day in classrooms to judge quality for yourself.

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At November 10, 2008 at 12:16 PM , Anonymous Mandy said...

Keep up the good work.


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