Annie Minguez of Good Shepherd Services, flanked by children from Bronx early education programs in front of the Bronx Supreme Court building, at an April 22 rally to fight proposed budget cuts.

Proposed cuts to early child education in the mayor’s upcoming budget have some Bronx families on edge, in the face of rising costs for child care.

At an April 22 rally on the steps of the Bronx Supreme Court building, teens joined elected officials to pressure Mayor Eric Adams to reconsider his decision to slice fourteen percent of the city’s budget for free pre-k and 3-k programs before the June 30 budget deadline.

Teens brought in by groups that oppose the cuts, such as Campaign for Children, BronxWorks, Good Shepherd Services and Children’s Aid, chanted “No more budget cuts!”

According to a report by the City’s Committee for Children, more than four in five families with children under five are unable to afford child care in the city. Families in the Bronx and Brooklyn face the highest child care cost burden, spending almost two thirds of their annual income on these services.

 Gregory Brender, the Chief of Policy and Innovation at Day Care Council of New York, said that although federal funding from the pandemic stimulus funds are running out, $170 million remain in city funds that could be tapped.

Teens who spoke out at the April rally were adamant the mayor find a way to keep early education funded.

“After-school programs were an essential part of my childhood and educational development,” said Anna Mariel Perez, 17, a Morrisania resident. Perez’s parents worked long hours, but enrolled her and her siblings in after-school programs and couldn’t pick them up after school, she said. Their choice to enroll her in these programs saved them from having to find a caregiver.

Aissatou Barry, 17, talked about her experience being in after-school programs in Morrisania as a child of immigrant parents. She recalled her first time ever going to a movie theater with the other children in the program along with program staff, as part of her after-school program, and the friends she made there.

“After-school was something I always looked forward to,” said Barry. “My parents got the chance to work and not worry about my whereabouts or my health.” said Barry. “Good quality after-school is important for us youth, and if we are truly as important to the City as it claims, please do not take free after-school programs away from us.”

Vanessa Velazquez, 40, whose daughter Penelope Acosta is in second grade, attends one of Children’s Aid Community Schools at the Whitney Young campus in Crotona Park East. Penelope attends C.S. 211 Community School and enjoys planting and dancing, in programs now paid for with federal funding that the proposed cuts would eliminate.

“By doing those budget cuts, you’re cutting their imagination and alienating them to do other things that don’t contribute to their education,” said Velazquez.

Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson urged the public to continue pressuring their elected officials to fight the proposed cuts.

“A budget is a document that should be a reflection of our priorities,” said Gibson. “What we want to make sure is over the next several days and weeks, as we get closer to a final budget for the City of New York, we want all that money back. We want the money that we are due because all of you deserve that.”

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