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Longtime Queens child care provider shutters program

The Jewish Child Care Association, first known as the Hebrew Benevolent Society, was founded in 1822 and has operated in Queens for almost half a century.
Courtesy of JCCA
By Gabriel Rom

The Jewish Child Care Association, which has provided child care services in Queens for over 50 years, will close its flagship child care program according to Ronald Richter, the JCCA’s chief executive officer.

While a specific closure date has not yet been given the JCCA plans to terminate its contract with the city’s Administration for Child Services sometime in 2016. The JCCA is partially funded by the state and the federal government and also by the ACS.

According to a letter Richter sent to parents, The Family Child Care Program in Queens will be shuttering due to a “declining census” and a “serious lack of sufficient funding.” A restructuring of the organization’s funding sources “severely impacted the child-care program’s financial sustainability,” JCCA staff said.

To date, the program provides day care services for some 200 children throughout the neighborhoods of Forest Hills, Rego Park and Kew Gardens, all of which have booming Jewish populations.

The JCCA operates a network of over 100 home-based child care facilities in Queens, training providers, supervising locations and matching interested families with available providers. Many of the program’s providers and participants are Jewish, with most from émigré families from the former Soviet Union, Israel and other countries.

Parents, mostly in the Bukharian community, have scrambled to look for child-care replacements even as the JCCA has tried to allay fears that services would be lost.

JCCA representatives maintained that there would be no disruption of services, no childcare slots would be cut and children and their providers would be transferred to other programs by 2016.

“There has been a lot of confusion and misinformation,” said Sandy Katz, the program’s director. “To be clear, the program is not ending, we are ending our involvement. Providers and children will simply go on to other programs.”

“There should be no gap in services, but that’s up to ACS,” she added. “The hope is that there will be a seamless transfer.”

According to the transfer process the Administration for Child Services will reach out to other child-care networks in the Queens area and match them with parents.

“We believe our language to have been extremely clear,” said Leslie Gottlieb, JCCA’s spokeswoman.
“People have not fully understood that we are working closely with ACS. We are partnering with them in making sure the transition is smooth.”

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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