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2022 News Releases

Oct. 19, 2022

Council Member Rita Joseph:
Sam Weinberger
Tel. (646) 753-2193

DC 37:
Thea Setterbo
Tel. (212) 815-1536

Council Member Joseph, District Council 37, New York City Council Members, early childhood education advocates rally for day care worker pay and child care center funding

NEW YORK— Council Member Rita Joseph, New York City Council Members and District Council 37 leaders joined Local 205 workers and child care advocates at a rally Wednesday at City Hall to demand the Department of Education take action on the unacceptable situation at city-funded child care and day care centers, where hundreds of workers have gone without their paychecks for months and contracted providers are being forced to close affordable neighborhood programs.

“The DOE has a moral imperative to improve the timeliness of payments to child care centers,” said New York City Council Member Rita Joseph, the Chairwoman of the New York City Council Education Committee. “It’s simple: when our child care providers work day in and day out on behalf of our young people, they deserve to get paid promptly and consistently. As a city, we can and must treat our child care workers with the dignity they deserve. Many thanks to DC 37 for their partnership and advocacy.”

In July 2019, the functions of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Early Learn Child Care, including enrollment and payment, were transferred to the DOE. This summer, DC 37 became aware of nearly 200 child care centers that were owed payments by the DOE, resulting in workers going without pay for up to eight weeks at a time.

“This is unacceptable—no worker should be forced to work without being paid for their time,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director of District Council 37, which represents early childhood education teachers, assistant teachers and professional support staff in the centers. “Our child care professionals are already among the lowest paid, and the work they do to care for the city’s youngest is often a lifeline for the families who rely on their services. We demand the DOE make it right so that our members do not go another day anxious about when their next hard-earned paycheck will arrive.”

After the rally, speakers testified at a City Council hearing regarding the severe economic hardships faced by day care and child care workers who cannot afford to remain at these institutions without consistent and reliable pay, a stark reality that threatens the stability of New York City’s child care system.

“Early childhood education providers signed contracts with the DOE because they fully expected the City of New York to live up to its contractual obligations. They never thought doing so would jeopardize the viability of their businesses, the security of their staff or the critical child care services New York families need to fully return to work,” said Tara N. Gardner, Executive Director of the Day Care Council of New York. “Many providers— including those who have contracted with the City for decades— have been unable to meet their financial obligations because the City has not kept this commitment. We call on the City to immediately pay providers for the services provided last school year, and fix its broken systems so that these jobs are preserved and more families do not lose their desperately needed child care.”

With starting pay for Paraprofessional Aides in these programs ranging from $27,920 to $38,742, day care and child care workers are among those at the highest risk during the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Delays in owed pay cause tremendous hardship for these workers and their families, with consequences that include threats of eviction, homelessness, late charges and medical emergencies.

Stakeholder Quotes:
“The dedication of my members in providing services to our city’s children while forgoing the security of their next paycheck is a testament to their professionalism and commitment. But it also exposes the DOE’s irresponsibility in not providing proper, timely payments. Pay them on time!”- Robert Ramos, President of Local 205 Day Care Employees

“The City’s early childhood education system plays a vital role in supporting the social emotional development of young children and establishing a foundation for school readiness; it is also a lifeline for parents who have peace of mind that their children are well cared for while they work. Sadly, the system is in crisis as center-based providers are owed more than $400 million in payment for services rendered last fiscal year. The glacial pace of payments from the DOE to center-based providers has triggered the leveraging of loans and lines of credit and in numerous instances resulted in missed payrolls and heightened the risk of disruption of health insurance coverage for center-based staff. It is critical that the Adams administration, and DOE specifically, immediately address the totality of payments owed for Fiscal Year 2022 and work to put in place systemic fixes that will ensure there are no further disruptions in payment or to the lives of workers, parents and New York’s children.” – Jennifer March, Executive Director, Citizens’ Committee for Children

“The nation, state and City continue to spotlight the critical importance of child care, not only for the healthy development and early learning of our children – especially after the traumas of the pandemic, but for parents trying to remain steadily engaged in the workforce to ensure economic stability for their family. While it is important to underscore the need for increased child care capacity to meet community and family need, in order to meet that need it is absolutely necessary to focus on stabilizing, equitably supporting, and growing the child care workforce who have been neglected for far too long. CHCF joins its partners in calling on city leaders to immediately address and correct the longstanding delays in contract payment, which jeopardizes already vulnerable child care programs financially as well as their ability to retain their committed workers.” – Ramon Peguero, Esq., President & CEO, the Committee for Hispanic Children & Families (CHCF)

‘We beseech the City to take immediate action to ensure providers receive the funding they are owed. Every day this matter is not resolved the early childhood system caring for thousands of our city’s children and families who rely on it to stay gainfully employed is increasingly destabilized, and the impact on all of New York will be hard felt.” – Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director, FPWA

“The DOE’s disregard of timely contract payments for early childhood education providers has a significant cash flow impact on the organizations running these essential child caring programs. With funding delays and a rapidly-shifting labor market, it’s disgraceful that the City would ask nonprofits organizations to wait months or years for millions of dollars that they are owed. The City’s reckless behavior is harmful to the fiscal integrity of community based organizations at a time when they are being asked to do more.” – Susan Stamler, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses (UNH)

District Council 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, with 150,000 members and 89,000 retirees.