After weeks of intense advocacy by Agudath Israel and others, the New York City Board of Health is expected to vote today to allow childcare programs to reopen effective Monday July 13th with safety guidelines in place.
When Governor Cuomo released the NYS Pause Executive Order on March 20, the order allowed for childcare programs with final decisions left to local municipalities. Unfortunately, New York City maintained that childcare should be only for children of essential workers. New York City’s programs under Article 43 (School-Based Programs for Children Ages Three Through Five) and Article 47 programs (Day Care Services) were shuttered since April 6th. The city also argued that since Article 43 is school-based, programs under Article 43 cannot open as long as schools were unable to open, a position that appeared at odds with the state directives closing schools only for learning but not uses of school buildings for child care.
Now, with the city beginning to reopen, it became imperative for all child care centers to open in order to enable parents to safely return to work. Additionally, with the Governor rolling out a dedicated funding stream of $65 million from the CARES Act designated for the reopening of child care centers, there was a real concern that if Article 43 and 47 programs would remain closed, they would lose out on this critical funding.
Agudath Israel, along with PEARLS, UJO, and other groups began an intense lobbying campaign of both state and city officials to fully open NYC child care programs. At the same time, City Council members Brad Lander and Debi Rose introduced legislation requiring child care programs to open which Agudah fully supported
along with a coalition of child care providers from across the city. Today’s vote opening Article 43 and 47 centers is a direct result of those efforts. Providers also benefited from the advocacy of Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein who had been in constant contact with both city and state officials.
“The past few months of no child care programming in New York City have been very tough on both parents and children,” said Mrs. Deborah Zachai, director of education affairs for Agudath Israel of America. “We are happy, that at long last, the Board of Health heard our community’s needs and agreed to reopen these programs. Thousands of children who have been out of child care for three and a half months will now be able to return to some sense of “normalcy” and their parents can get back to work, helping New York City’s economy.”