Parents and Teachers Fight Against Closure of Staten Island Daycare

By Nicholas Rizzi on June 15, 2012 11:49am 

Councilwomen Debi Rose promised to fight the cuts and the new ACS funding process at a rally at the Friends of Crown Heights Daycare Center, Stapleton, on June 14, 2012.
Councilwomen Debi Rose promised to fight the cuts and the new ACS funding process at a rally at the Friends of Crown Heights Daycare Center, Stapleton, on June 14, 2012.
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DNAInfo/Nicholas Rizzi

STATEN ISLAND — Supporters of a day care center in the courtyard of the notorious Stapleton Houses have launched a fight to stop it from closing.

The Friends of Crown Heights Day Care Center is slated to close in November because of budget cuts and new rules for publicly funded daycare centers.

But community members and leaders desperate to keep it open rallied Thursday to demand cash be found to save it.

"You put everything in place for the kids and give them everything they need and now it's being taken away," said Melody Davis, director of the daycare.

"This could be a big inconvenience for everybody."

The daycare center has 55 students, ages two to five, and employs nine teachers, Davis said.

The closest subsidized center for Stapleton residents is a 20 to 30 minute drive away, which may make it hard for parents who work or have transportation issues.

"We need this facility to be open so we can be able to go to school, go to work and make a better future for everybody," said Suzee Zondoe, 26, who has a four-year-old at the center.

Councilwoman Debi Rose promised to fight against the new funding process and save the center.

"I am angry because our children are our future and they are being put on the sideline," Rose said. "For an administration that wishes education to be one of the hallmarks of its legacy, it is indeed a legacy of failure."

The Friends of Crown Heights Daycare will join 10 other after-school programs threatened with closure under the budget cuts and the Administration for Children’s Services' (ACS) new rules for funding for programs in the city's subsidized early child care system, called EarlyLearn.

"Right now, we're talking about the fact that 55 children will not have the advantages of early education, that gives them that foot up in their education experience," Rose said.

The new EarlyLearn initiative was created to boost early childhood education standards and requires every publicly funded daycare program, from home-based operations to larger centers, to submit an application for funds.

The ACS announced the 149 recommended awardees in May, and the Friends of Crown Heights center did not join the five Staten Island programs that made the cut.

Even though the daycare center did not receive the funds, they can still stay open as a non-subsidized program, the ACS said.

The applicants' requests for proposals (RFP) were ranked and awardees were chosen based on quality standards, organizational capability and quantity and quality experience, the ACS said.

The rankings will not be made public, something Rose wants the ACS to do.

"The ACS [should] reveal the rankings of the RFP," she said. "Because so many daycare centers that have been long established were left out of this process."

In addition to revealing the rankings, Rose wants the ACS to rollback the EarlyLearn process and return funding to the Friends of Crown Heights center.

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