Volume 18 • Issue 11 | August 5 - 11, 2005

Downtown Express photo by Clayton Patterson

Children from local youth groups attended a meeting at PS. 20 to discuss proposed cuts to their activities.

City to cut Chinatown youth programs

By Vanessa Romo

The city plans to cut at least 500 slots for children who attend after-school and youth programs in Chinatown and on the Lower East Side.

“People need daycare,” said David Chen, executive director of the Chinese-American Planning Council, whose agency provides year-round daycare at eight locations throughout Lower Manhattan. “If they have no daycare, they can’t go to work. It’s as simple as that.”

The cuts are planned for this September and Chen’s group alone may lose as many as 440 seats. The city recently promised to add money to retain 250 slots for all of it’s Lower Manhattan programs, which may include Chen’s.

In an effort to consolidate Out of School Time services and provide uniform after-school and youth development programs throughout the five boroughs, the city Department of Youth and Community Development is undertaking a complete overhaul of OST, eliminating existing programs in some neighborhoods, now under the direction of the city Administration for Children’s Services, and implementing new ones in areas that have not had these services in the past.

Parents attended a rally July 21 at P.S. 20 in hopes of convincing D.Y.C.D. Commissioner Jeanne Mullgrav, to restore the slots and guarantee the continued use of Henry Street Settlement and the Chinese-American Planning Council as the primary providers of the programs.

Under the new system, which has a budget of $46 million for the 2005-2006 school year and includes more than 200 organizations providing 560 programs, Henry Street Settlement will lose 350 of its existing slots serving the children of P.S. 20 and P.S. 110, and the Chinese-American Planning Council will lose 440 slots previously allotted to the children of P.S. 1, P.S. 2, P.S. 19 and P.S. 20.

The distribution of slots by Youth Development was determined, in part, by identifying zip codes with the highest youth population, youth poverty rate, rate of youth ages 16 - 19 that are not in school, not high school graduates and not in the labor force and with high numbers of single parent families with related children under 18 years of age. In all 140 residential zip codes have received funding.

“The idea of reorganization is a good idea to improve the quality of programming and to ensure all areas have programming, but they are not sensitive to local needs and the day-to-day realities of local parents and children,” said Councilmember Alan Gerson, who opposes the cuts. “It will save a certain amount of money but it will be expensive to kids.”

At the P.S. 20 meeting, D.Y.C.D. officials announced a commitment to provide additional funding to support 250 slots in Lower Manhattan, said Michael Ognibene, an agency spokesperson. And parents whose children currently receive childcare from A.C.S. programs can enroll in O.S.T. programs during a 12-day early enrollment period.

“Chinatown is a unique situation because you had almost half of the slots in Manhattan in the area,” said Ognibene.

Under the A.C.S. system, the Chinese-American Planning Council had 730 of Manhattan’s 1,500 after-school program slots. “We knew there would be a shortfall but it’s been restored,” Ognibene said.

But Elysia Carnevale, spokesperson for the other city agency involved, Administration for Childhood Services, did not confirm Ognibene’s assertion and said that in fact, about 500 slots would be cut at Henry St. and Chinese Planning, which roughly matches the numbers provided by Henry Street and Chinese Planning.

Gerson said he spoke with Commissioner Mullgrav Tuesday and he is hopeful that more than 250 slots will be restored.

The 250 slots are not for any specific school or agency, they are for all of Lower Manhattan, said Leonard Golubchick, principal of P.S. 20. But he is hopeful that the remaining 540 slots will be restored and said, “I’m sure that the folks at City Hall will do the right thing. I’m optimistic. I have to be.”

In the meantime, parents are waiting for D.Y.C.D. to publish a final list of agency programs and slot assignments expected to be released on Tuesday, August 9.


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