Volume 75, Number 10 | July 27 - Aug. 2, 2005

Villager photo by Clayton Patterson

Some of the students at last Thursday’s rally at P.S. 20 to save O.S.T. slots in Chinatown and Downtown Manhattan.

Out-of-school slots first thought lost are restored

By Vanessa Romo

More than 500 parents, students, teachers and community leaders crammed into P.S. 20’s non-air conditioned auditorium on Thurs. July 21 to meet with city officials and address proposed cuts to after-school, holiday and summer daycare programs.

“It was very, very heated, literally” said Councilmember Alan Gerson, who attended the meeting and described the community’s turnout as “very impressive.”

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

For the parents of children in Lower Manhattan, these changes mean the loss of 500 slots in after-school daycare, academic and recreational services as of Sept. 1, 2005 — the day after-school programs change hands from A.C.S. to D.Y.C.D.

Parents attended the rally in hopes of convincing D.Y.C.D. Commissioner Jeanne Mullgrav, Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields, Councilmembers Gerson and Margarita Lopez and Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum to restore the slots and guarantee the continued use of the Chinese-American Planning Council as the primary provider of the program.

Under the new system, the Chinese-American Planning Council, serving students from P.S. 1, P.S. 2, P.S.19, P.S. 124 and P.S. 130, would have lost funding for 250 slots.

“The idea of the 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 Gerson. “It will save a certain amount of money, but it will be expensive to kids.”

David Chen, executive director of C.P.C., whose agency provides summer day-care weekdays from 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. at four locations throughout Lower Manhattan, agrees with Gerson. “People need daycare,” he said. “If they have no daycare, they can’t go to work. It’s as simple as that.”

And it is a simple message that the D.Y.C.D. seems to have heard, at least partially.

By the end of the meeting, D.Y.C.D. 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. To be exact, 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.

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