- After the epidemic ravaged the childcare industry and as a competitive labour market attracted employees away, the city and country were already dealing with an extreme childcare crisis.
- Parents have been concerned about losing the free city childcare programmes on which they rely as centres have warned them about their uncertain future.
- The organization’s founder, Fela Barclift, who founded Little Sun People and has lived in Brooklyn for more than 40 years, called the payment method “horrendous.”
A proposal to speed up payments will be announced by school authorities on Thursday in response to concerns from New York City childcare providers that payment delays nearly caused some of them to shut down.
After the epidemic ravaged the childcare industry and as a competitive labour market attracted employees away, the city and country were already dealing with an extreme childcare crisis.
Childcare providers have been displeased with the city for months because they claim that by failing to pay them for publicly supported prekindergarten and 3-K programmes on time or at all, they are adding to the pressure on the sector.
The chancellor of schools, David C. Banks, recently stated in an interview that he will send a “quick response team” to childcare facilities to address payment concerns.
I hear them, I see them, and I feel them, and I’m doing all I can to help them,” Mr Banks added. We need them. Any closure of these organisations would be unacceptable to me.
School authorities will also ensure that childcare providers that cooperate with the city to accurately submit bills will earn at least 75% of their contract for the fiscal year ending in June, even if enrollment was lower than anticipated.
For months, childcare centres have been complaining that the city isn’t paying them for prekindergarten and 3-K services. At least one significant provider, Sheltering Arms, which operates six preschool locations in the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan and serves about 400 children, will close its doors the following month.
Parents have been concerned about losing the free city childcare programmes on which they rely as centres have warned them about their uncertain future. The city’s Division of Early Childhood Education, which has lost more than 100 employees this year, has also come under fire from some City Council members for changes made to its workforce.
The head of Snapdragon Place, a home-based childcare in central Brooklyn that this year enrolled in the city’s 3-K programme, Sasha Maslouski, said “the whole process has been very stressful, very nerve-wracking, very unstable and a great letdown.”
To assist with paying for rent, food, payroll, and supplies, she anticipated getting a check before the start of the school year in September. When it finally arrived at the end of October, Ms Maslouski had to spend $60,000 to keep the programme going.
She later stated, “I feel like we’ve been ignored. “Getting paid should not require screaming, yelling, or protesting.”
Bill de Blasio’s administration, according to Mr Banks, is to blame for the payment issues. He claimed that school officials failed to develop a straightforward payment system and instead concentrated on quickly expanding the number of 3-K spots, even though many of the current openings are unfilled.
According to Mr Banks, “that is the reality we inherited—a severely defective system that we have been fighting to discover and rectify.”
Free universal childcare for 4-year-olds was one of Mr de Blasio’s most notable policy accomplishments.
He then expanded it to include 3-year-olds and promised to make 3-K universal by 2023 by providing 60,000 spaces. However, Mayor Eric Adams, his replacement, is less devoted to implementing universal 3-K by the next academic year.
Josh Wallack, who handled universal prekindergarten as Mr. de Blasio’s deputy schools chancellor, has supported the strategy used by the last administration. The Adams administration had ten months to fix any issues, he claimed, and the payment system had been reliable for years.
Last month, Mr Wallack wrote on Twitter that “the staff at these institutions truly carried our children through a pandemic.” This is an emergency, not just for them but for all of us, until every single one of them has been compensated.
According to school authorities, for the fiscal year that ended in June, the city owes childcare providers roughly $140 million. A total of 480 childcare institutions are having trouble submitting bills, which has caused a delay in payment of nearly $120 million of that total.
However, some centres had fewer children enrolled than they had planned. According to school authorities, only around 38,000 of the approximately 55,000 3-K seats that were funded by the city were occupied this year by centres. If a service provider enters a contract to deliver services to 50 students but only enrols 15, they must change their budget and will get less money than they anticipated.
More than 100 employees of Sheltering Arms may lose their employment, however, some are anticipated to transfer to other projects within the company.
Simone Hawkins, a senior officer in the agency’s early childhood division who oversaw payments to contracted preschools, made her resignation from the Education Department two weeks before the announcement on Thursday. Mr Banks said that Ms Hawkins quit for “personal reasons” but she did not respond to inquiries for comment.
Ms Hawkins and Kara Ahmed, the vice chancellor of early childhood education, stated that more than $930 million had been paid out in reimbursements to providers for the previous school year at a City Council meeting last month that was mainly focused on tardy payments to providers.
The new quick reaction team would comprise 20 to 25 current employees from the Education Department, according to Dan Weisberg, the first deputy schools chancellor, and additional employees would be provided by City Hall.
Mr Banks claimed that after discussing the payment delays with Mr Adams, both parties were committed to finding a solution.
Mr Banks stated, “This is not a question of whether we have the money. “The money is in the budget. We already have the money.
Some operators have started GoFundMe campaigns or filed for personal loans to help with expenditures after not receiving the anticipated payments.
The organization’s founder, Fela Barclift, who founded Little Sun People and has lived in Brooklyn for more than 40 years, called the payment method “horrendous.” Ms Barclift said that her company did not receive payments from the department between August 2021 and March 2022 because the city had not yet approved the occupancy of the facility they were using. She said that during the previous academic year, she was forced to cut back on instructor hours and borrow more than $55,000 from her mother.
“While we wait for these problems to be resolved, we have no endowments or significant monetary budgets,” she added. To attempt to ensure that we fulfil payroll, we “actually struggle every single day.”