Friday, November 12, 2010

Priority 7 Vouchers To Be Cancelled 6 Months Early

Priority 7, a program that provides child care vouchers to working couples was unilaterally terminated by the Bloomberg administration as part of a series of ad hoc budget cuts that are taking effect 6 months earlier than planned, in2010 instead of the end of the school year. After tense negotiations, an extension of the program to December 31, 2010 has been reached. The program provides day care to lower income families in which both parents work. The budget cuts disproportionately affect the orthodox Jewish communities of Boro Park and Williamsburg. Yeshiva describes the impact of the budget cuts as follows.

"In fact, a 2008 report published by ACS noted that the heavily Orthodox neighborhoods of Boro Park and Williamsburg, where the majority of Priority 7 vouchers are distributed, had the largest unmet need for publicly funded childcare. And, by ACS’ own admission, 92.1% of the 2,200 children receiving Priority 7 vouchers are living below 100% of the poverty level."

The discontinuation of this program will make it difficult for working families to provide child care for their children while they are working. This is in addition to the possible loss of jobs created by the elimination of the Priority 7 program. When you factor in possible loss of employment resulting from people who can not work without day care, you already have a reduction in the savings created by elimination of priority 7. Parents who must quit jobs will be drawing unemployment and other forms of government help to cover their loss of work.

In actuality, there will be very little savings resulting from the discontinuation of Priority 7. All that will happen will be that parents will sign up for other programs that partially replace lost income. Money saved with these budget cuts will more than be lost elsewhere. Parents in Priority 7 are trying to work and contribute to society. By cutting out daycare for the working poor, we are telling them to stay at home and collect government benefits instead. Is this the message we need to convey in these tough times?

To contact Mayor Bloomberg and other members of the City government, click here.

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