Parents fight potential cuts to after-school programs

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Amanda Dimick, a single mother of four, couldn’t hold back her tears as she spoke of what the after-school child care Beacon Program means to her and her boys.

“I find myself spreading myself thin between my four children,” she said, as her voice cracked. “I don’t know what I would do without the [Beacon] program.”

All across the city, the group Campaign for Children is teaming up with after-school programs and calling for long-term investment from elected officials to create stable, sustainable, high-quality child care.

According to the Campaign, city-funded child care programs, such as Beacon, face “constant uncertainty and instability.”

Last year, after-school programs faced a potential $170 million budget cut, but the Campaign and its partnering programs prevailed, restoring the full budget, after dozens of citywide rallies, phone calls and letters to elected officials. This year, although no budget cuts have been announced yet, the Campaign is calling for the same.

“[Beacon] enables me to put in more time at work,” said Dimick at a town hall meeting at the Queens Community House Beacon on Wednesday, January 17.

Dimick, whose four boys are all under 12 years old, said that when she needs to spend time focusing on work, she knows she can rely on the staff to be valuable role models for her children.

“They say it takes a community to raise a child, and that’s definitely been my situation,” she said.

“I’m going to fight for you,” assured Councilmember Karen Koslowitz, who was a single parent of two and said that after-school programs “saved her” when she had to go to work.

“This mayor has to recognize that our children are very important,” she added.

Warren Fink lives with just his 11-year-old daughter, Miriam, who has been going to the Beacon program for years.

“When I wake up in the morning, I need a purpose,” he said. “And my purpose is my daughter. [At Beacon,] I feel that my daughter is surrounded by wonderful people, and she’s learning as she’s growing.”

Fink spoke for many parents when he said that closing the program puts much more pressure on working parents, and could potentially put the kids on the streets after school.

The next step for the Campaign and concerned parents is to make their voices heard, and ensure that long-term investments are made in child care and after-school programs.