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Jewish child center opens in Rego Park

Jewish child center opens in Rego Park
Elizabeth Schnur (from l.), Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Richard Altman, Sandra Katz, Rabbi Ilan Ginian, Councilman Daniel Dromm, and Debby Perelmuter celebrate the opening of the new Rego Park facility. Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Hevesi’s office
By Joe Anuta

A Rego Park child care center opened its new location last week despite continuing cuts in the city’s day-care budget.

The Jewish Child Care Association moved its main office to a larger space at 95-25 Queens Blvd., where it will provide two new programs.

“JCCA’s mission is to work with children and families who are struggling,” said Debby Perelmuter, vice president of services.

One of the programs is a tutoring session called Two Together, where volunteers from the community meet weekly with a child, often from the Bukharian Jewish Community, to help with schoolwork. The program currently serves 25 children in Forest Hills and Rego Park, Perelmuter said. The other program, “Bridges 2 Health,” focuses on the special needs of foster children.

But JCCA’s main service to the community is through the home daycare it has been providing to Queens for 50 years.

The main office acts like a central command center for private homes all around the borough that host day care. Staff members at the center train day care providers and help them apply for licences from the city.

“We offer support services for all our providers,” Perelmuter said.

Many of the area’s working poor — those who make money but often not enough to eat or make rent — receive a subsidy from the government to pay for the center’s child care, although they have to pay a weekly $5 fee.

The center served about 1,100 Queens children last year, but that number is in danger of dropping.

A proposed budget for the city Administration for Children’s Services would raise the $5 fee to $15, which would triple the monthly cost to $60, according to Sandra Katz, JCCA’s day care director. The city would also lower the maximum income families could make, so many households that now qualify would be making too much money in the future to take advantage of the program.

“That would be a big impact,” Katz said. “Less parents will now qualify and that will make it harder for them to go to work and participate in the economy.”

And since many parents would not want to lose their jobs, according to Katz, they might choose to pay cheaper prices for unlicensed daycare.

“They may choose child care that’s not monitored,” she said, adding that unlicensed day-care centers can be dangerous since they are not screened for safety.

JCCA is partially funded by the state and the federal government and also by the city Administration for Children’s Services, which according to the mayor’s proposed budget would close 15 daycare centers by next summer — three of them in Queens.

State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) was there for the grand opening. He has donated $50,000 to the organization from the Assembly’s budget that will go toward building another facility in the future, according to a spokeswoman.

“The assemblyman is thrilled that JCCA could open a new facility in our district. Having parented with this org in the past, he is very impressed by the work they do. We look forward to working with them in the future,” said Ashley Pillsbury, legislative director for the assemblyman.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Note: This article has been changed since publication to provide the correct address for JCCA.

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