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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Workers win

After DC 37 rallies, Mayor announces new investments in early child care, day care providers

Photos: Mike Lee
Pay them on time! Local 205 President Robert Ramos demanded the DOE fix problems in payments to the City’s day care and child care centers, which caused some workers to go without pay for weeks.

In a victory for New York City’s children and hundreds of DC 37’s day care and early childhood educators, Mayor Eric Adams and City Schools Chancellor David C. Banks announced new investments and a rapid-response team to quickly stabilize problems in New York City Early Childhood Education.

In the Nov. 3 announcement, the City initiated a stabilization plan that will pay service providers and community-based programs at least 75% of their fiscal year 2022 contracts. Additionally, the City is creating a Rapid Response Team to provide one-on-one support to assist providers in submitting invoices and receiving prompt payment from the City for their services.

The union was quick to respond to the new policy.

“This is a step in the right direction. The City of New York owes a debt to every child care provider and day care worker who showed up for our youngest New Yorkers without the promise of a paycheck,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “We thank the members of Local 205, Council Member Rita Joseph, and the dozens of child care advocacy organizations for sounding the alarm on this issue and fighting alongside us to make it right for our workers.”

New York City Council Education Committee Chair Rita Joseph speaks out at Oct. 19 City Hall Rally.
The announcement came less than two weeks after a rally by Local 205 members and allies to call attention to the financial crisis facing City-funded child care and day care centers. They joined New York City Council Education Committee Chair Rita Joseph and other elected officials on Oct. 19 in front of City Hall to demand the Department of Education (DOE) adequately fund the City’s day care and child care centers and pay essential workers.

“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,” said Robert Ramos, president of Local 205. “But it also exposes the DOE’s irresponsibility in not providing timely payments. Pay them on time!”

In 2018, programs serving children under the age of four were run by the Administration for Children’s Services until the City consolidated all under-five children’s programs under the DOE. The decision resulted in increased delays in paying invoices to providers. The situation worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of support from then-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration.

Delayed payments to providers meant hundreds of workers, primarily women of color and members of DC 37’s Local 205, going without pay for weeks and months at a time. Many centers have cut back on programs and, in the case of at least one center, were forced to close.

Local 205 members, elected officials, activists and parents rallied for proper funding of the City’s day care and child care centers.
“This is unacceptable. No worker should be forced to work without being paid for their time,” Garrido said. “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 Department of Education make it right so our members do not go another day anxious about when their next hard-earned paycheck will arrive.”

After the rally and pressure from the City Council, the City and the DOE responded quickly and deployed the Rapid Response Team to work with individual providers to offer expedited support. These one-on-one meetings ensure providers can get up to date on invoices, receive payments to maintain programs, and pay their workers on time.

With this new policy in place, the Rapid Response Team is conducting weekly meetings and in-person visits to providers’ workplaces. The DOE is conducting a comprehensive analysis of availability and demand for seats at day care and child care providers. This will assist in decisions on the future allocation of infant, toddler, and pre-k seats. This assessment is expected to be completed by next spring.