News and Resources

Campaign for Children Seeks Funding for Early Childhood and After School Fixes

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

In response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Preliminary Budget for FY2015-16, The Campaign for Children is seeking several budget adjustments to address what they argue are critical issues in both the early childhood and after school services networks in New York City. 
“Early Learn providers’ largest concern is with the compensation of their staff. Early Childhood educators are among the lowest paid professionals of any field and the situation for Early Learn teachers and staff is particularly stark,” said UNH’s Gregory Brender.  “Many Early Learn staff cannot afford health insurance due to the employee contribution. Moreover, their salaries are considerably lower than similarly credentialed teachers in the public school systems. These disparities will only grow if the wages of Early Learn teachers continue to stagnate.”

Read the full article here.  

Pre-K Providers Pressure de Blasio Over Salary Disparities

Thursday, January 15, 2015

By Eliza Shapiro

As City Hall gears up for the second year of its massive pre-kindergarten program, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration will have to reckon with mounting pressure from community-based organizations about salary and benefit disparities that have long plagued the city’s early education programs.

C.B.O. providers, who operate pre-kindergarten classes in facilities that are not public schools, stayed relatively quiet during the lead-up to the pre-K rollout last fall, careful not to hedge their enthusiasm about the expansion of early childhood education. But they are now voicing significant concern about pay discrepancies, which can stretch to tens of thousands of dollars, between community center teachers and staff and their Department of Education counterparts.
Some of the administration's most reliable pre-K allies, rather than the charter school advocates and reform leaders who are regularly critical of the mayor's policies, are leading the push to address salary disparities. 

“We have the tale of two school systems right here in the early childhood field,” said Nancy Wackstein, executive director of United Neighborhood Houses, which oversees 38 community organizations, many of which offer pre-K.
Salary and benefit disparities, she said, will be “a profound challenge going forward.”
D.O.E. pre-K teachers can make up to $91,000 with a masters’ degree and 20 years of experience. C.B.O. teachers with identical credentials can earn up to $50,000. D.O.E. teachers are represented by the United Federation of Teachers, and are eligible for new raises and benefits in the new U.F.T. contract.

After a relatively smooth launch in September,  which was hardly guaranteed, the administration has repeatedly stressed that the pre-K roll-out would be a two-year climb, with any initial hiccups addressed in year two.

The administration filled over 53,000 spots this year, and is planning to extend the program to 70,000 four-year-olds this fall, with C.B.O.s making up more than 60 percent of the city's 1,700 pre-K offerings. 

If C.B.O. providers and advocates get their way, the administration will hone in on salary disparities, which they consider to be perhaps the most substantial issue going forward.
C.B.O. teachers typically belong to either District Council 1707’s Local 205, which represents daycare employees, or the union’s Local 95, which represents Head Start employees. Some C.B.Os have both Local 205 and Local 95 employees.

Benefit disparities are another major issue, providers and advocates say. C.B.O. teachers typically work longer days, as centers are open into the evening hours to accommodate working parents, and teach year-round. Their public school peers usually get summers off, teach until mid-afternoon, and have better health insurance plans provided by the U.F.T.

The issue of pay disparity has come up repeatedly in recent months in an early childhood education task force run out of City Hall, according to several members of the task force. The group has been meeting regularly to oversee the pre-K rollout, and is expected to report its findings to de Blasio during the last week of January. The task force is run by deputy mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli and Administration for Children’s Services commissioner Gladys Carrion to develop recommendations for the city’s early childhood education.

The administration moved to address the problem, which long predates de Blasio, last April, pledging $16.9 million of the $300 million dedicated pre-K funds to increase starting salaries for certified teachers in C.B.O.s.

Starting salaries for certified teachers at C.B.O.s with bachelors degrees were raised from about $35,000 to $44,000, and starting pay for certified teachers with masters degrees to $50,000. That's still slightly below the starting salary rate, $46,000, for D.O.E. teachers.
Advocates say the increases were helpful for child care employees, but haven’t been sufficient to accommodate the vast expansion of teaching staff.

David Nocenti, executive director of the Union Settlement Association in Harlem, which offers pre-K, pointed out that the increases didn’t account for more experienced teachers, or the many uncertified teaching assistants and staff members. And many Head Start teachers with bachelors degrees were already making the same  amount under their union contract.

“This is a single, high-quality system where four-year-olds are learning new multi-syllable vocabulary words, exploring through interactive science experiments and gaining critical interpersonal skills while making friends and engaging in meaningful play,” Devora Kaye, a D.O.E. spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We have made investments in training, given organizations new recruitment tools, and continue to provide ongoing resources to attract and retain the best teachers. Across every classroom we had a qualified lead instructor, and this will continue as we expand to new neighborhoods across the city. This is part of our profound commitment to giving every child a great early education, of which pre-K is the beginning."

Still, providers say they’ve lost students and some of their best teachers to D.O.E. schools due to the salary issues over the last year, as the scale of the pre-K roll-out has in some cases aggravated existing retention issues.

“What has typically happened in many cases is now exacerbated,” said Maria Collier, director of the Cypress Hills Child Care Corporation, a C.B.O. in Brooklyn. Pointing out that many C.B.O.s, like her’s, provide pre-K in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, Collier said the salary disparities can lead to loss of teachers, putting low-income students at a greater disadvantage.

“Teachers will gain experience or study while they are at a C.B.O., and as soon as they get their credentials they will go to the D.O.E.,” Collier said. "It’s totally understandable because many of them graduate owing lots of money, but it puts the C.B.O. at an extreme disadvantage because you cannot compete with the D.O.E," she said. 

Collier said she was lucky to lose only a few teachers to the D.O.E., this summer, but she said her center was “scrambling” just before the first day of school to hit enrollment targets, as parents tried to game the system by applying to as many programs as possible, creating long and unreliable waitlists.
Another pre-K provider who asked not to be identified said her program lost several of its best teachers to the D.O.E., along with students whose parents had been promised that enrolling at a district pre-K spot would help guarantee Kindergarten admission at the same school.

“Some of our agencies really have seen an exodus of staff,” said Gregory Bender, a policy analyst at United Neighborhood Houses.

Attrition has been a long-standing issue for C.B.Os, Collier and other providers said, but more students, teachers and programs have made the scope of the issue clearer.

“What the [rollout] revealed in stark terms was that the city has to have a better integrated early childhood system,” Bender said.

Different insurance plans for C.B.O. and D.O.E. staff have been another major disincentive for community-based teachers and staff, providers say.

Bender said as many as 60 percent of staff at some of the pre-K programs United Neighborhood Houses oversees have opted out of their health insurance plans due to the cost. Collier said several members of her staff, particularly custodial and kitchen staff, have also had to opt out of insurance plans.

The rollout has also shed light on another subtle layer of disparity that providers say is causing tension in their centers: salary differences between C.B.O. teachers providing pre-K to four-year-olds, and teachers who work with children 3 years old and under.

While C.B.O. teachers with master’s degrees and 20 years of experience who provide pre-K instruction can earn up to $50,000, child care providers who work with younger children earn less, only up to $39,500 at Cypress Hills, Collier said.

“When there is salary disparity within your own center, it magnifies dissatisfaction,” Collier said.
And while all parents of children in C.B.Os pay a basic fee for services, typically around $60 or $70, parents of younger children pay a larger amount.

The providers and advocates, most of whom have been longtime supporters of de Blasio and his early childhood goals, say they are grateful to have a mayor who recognizes the importance of pre-K, and all praised the initial rollout of the program.

The first year of the rollout was about “prying the door open,” said Nancy Kolben, the executive director of the Center for Children's Initiatives and a member of de Blasio's pre-K implementation working group. But, she added, “we have these two systems that should be aligned but aren’t there yet.” 

There's Still Time to Enroll Your 4-year-old in Pre-K This Fall

Friday, October 10, 2014

It's not too late for parents to enroll their 4-year-olds in free full day pre-K programs at public schools or nonprofits for this school year.The de Blasio administration — whose ambitious pre-K expansion aims to draw 53,000 kids this year — is letting centers continue enrolling kids past the traditional Oct. 1 deadline because there are still scores of open seats.

"We think the extension is a prudent decision given that this is the first year of this large expansion, and we want to ensure that every family has the opportunity to enroll their child in a program that fits their family's needs," said Gregory Brender, a policy director at United Neighborhood Houses, an umbrella group for the city's settlement houses, many of which offer pre-K programs.

Read the full article here. 

Advocates Applaud NYC's UPK and After School Plan

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Advocates applauded Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to expand full-day Universal Pre-Kindergarten and afterschool programs for middle school students, as well as the end to NYC's yearly "budget dance", during City Council budget hearings yesterday.  However, representatives of The Campaign for Children, a coalition of over 150 New York City provider and advocacy organizations, also citing a number of critical concerns which could threaten early childhood and after-school programs unless addressed quickly.  Among their concerns are funding rate discrepancies between Out of School Time programs supported by different funding streams, missing summer program allocations in the FY2015 budget and expiring one-year contracts in need of extensions.  The group also cited its Campaign for Children Transition Plan as a roadmap for developing a high-quality, universal system of early childhood and after-school programs.

“We are greatly encouraged by the growing recognition of the importance of after-school," said Gregory Brender of United Neighborhood Houses (UNH). "UNH strongly supports New York City’s plan to expand after-school programs for middle school students through a modest, targeted tax increase.   Many young people and parents from UNH member agencies have visited Albany, made phone calls and organized in their communities to support New York City’s plan.  We are thrilled that many members of the City Council have been lobbying for the plan and that the resolution supporting New York City’s plan passed with an overwhelming margin.  

Read the full article here! 

A de Blasio-connected Education Coalition Presents its Blueprint for Pre-K

Friday, November 22, 2013

An organization affiliated with some of mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's closest advisers has presented him with a plan to implement his signature universal pre-K and expanded after-school plans.

Campaign for Children, a coalition of 150 education providers and advocates, released a detailed plan on Wednesday for how de Blasio can make his pre-K and after-school promises into policy.

Jennifer Jones Austin, the co-chair of de Blasio's transition team, is also the C.E.O. of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, which serves on the steering committee of the Campaign for Children. The Campaign for Children is also represented by Berlin Rosen, the firm that steered de Blasio's campaign to victory, and might be in a position to get this particular plans noticed from among the litany of priority memos and education wishlists de Blasio is being inundated with. 

The plan was delivered to de Blasio's transition team Wednesday after a rally at City Hall.

"The Campaign for Children seeks to be a partner in this endeavor, but also to hold the Administration accountable for its implementation," a spokeswoman for the Campaign said in a release. 

Campaign for Children's plan involves baselining $120 million of City Council discretionary funds for pre-K and after-school for 47,000 children, plus securing $30 million of one-year funding in the after-school system.

The plan also involves extending the current contracts through 2015 to avoid waiting on the Council to renew them this June, just six months after the de Blasio administration takes office. 

De Blasio should also create a new office, the group advised, to be called the Office of Early Childhood, which would focus exclusively on children ages 0-5. 

Campaign for Children has also advised the transition team to begin incorporating Common Core standards beginning in Kindergarten.

“The Campaign is excited and encouraged to have a Mayor-Elect who is a long-time champion of early childhood education and after-school programs, and who has made strengthening and expanding these programs a top priority for his new administration,” Nancy Wackstein, director of United Neighborhood Houses New York, one of the Campaign's members, said in a statement. 

EarlyLearn, the city's current system for enrolling children in pre-K programs, currently serves only 27 percent of eligible families, according to data from the Administration for Children's Services.

The Campaign for Children called EarlyLearn "under-funded and unstable" in a statement.

De Blasio's transition team did not respond to a request for comment.

Here are Three Things the Next Mayor Should Do for NYC's Youngest

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Here are Three Things the Next Mayor Should Do for NYC's Youngest

Expert Advice on How to Strengthen the Early Childhood System

Tuesday, November 05, 2013 - 02:11 PM

Pre-kindergarten students (Yasmeen Khan)

It’s been one year since the Bloomberg Administration launched EarlyLearnNYC, an ambitious model aimed at improving the quality of the city’s contracted child care system for children ages 6 weeks to 4 years old. As we look back at its first year, we see that EarlyLearn, while laudable, has not been fully realized.

As it exists, the current EarlyLearn system is under-funded, decreases the capacity of the contracted system, and includes rates that are inadequate for providers.

According to the Mayor’s Management Report, EarlyLearn enrollment in fiscal year 2013 was 30,096, a substantial decrease from the more than 45,000 children enrolled in the contracted system the year earlier.

When we look at total enrollment in the contracted and voucher systems, we see a 19 percent decrease in the number of children served by ACS in 2013 (101,852) compared to 2010 (120,809). This decrease in the number of children served is particularly troubling in light of the fact that ACS has found that only about one third of all eligible children are being served as it is.

The numbers are moving in the wrong direction.

We see a path for the next mayor to take to truly maximize access to a high-quality, affordable, full-day early childhood education experience. EarlyLearn's overarching goal is to deliver a higher level of service; something that early childhood education providers and advocates agree is of vital importance in preparing high-needs, low-income children for kindergarten and beyond.

Here are three things we want to see the next mayor do to ensure the early childhood system's success:

1. Stop the annual budget dance. First and foremost, the more than $60 million of one-year City Council discretionary funding for child care must be baselined so that the money is permanently in ACS’s budget. This would eliminate the annual budget dance where the City Council restores the one-year funding each June and would result in a more stable system.

2. Increase funding. The city must address the EarlyLearn rate so that it is sufficient to fund the high-quality services that EarlyLearn envisioned. The per-child rate must be increased so that providers can meet standards, retain appropriate and credentialed staff and meet the costs of operations, administration, and materials for children.

3. Respect the staff. We must ensure early education staff has adequate compensation and benefits. An investment in the early childhood education system must include resources for the workforce, including professional development, support for obtaining credentials and advancing education, and improved compensation and benefits, including affordable health care coverage.

Subsidized child care is an investment in New York City’s future. Every child deserves access to safe, high-quality, and affordable early childhood education.

Going forward, the next mayor, public advocate, comptroller and City Council members must have a plan for making high-quality, affordable early education available to every New York City child.

UNH Releases "PEG'd Away: The impact of NYC PEG plans on New York City, its people and its communities"

Tuesday, March 05, 2013
PEG'd Away is a issue brief by United Neighborhood Houses, detailing the impact of PEGs to City agencies that provide core community services, such as Department for the Aging, Department for Youth and Community Development, Administration for Children's Services, Department of Homeless Services, and others. 

Twice a year, in order to close gaps in the City's budget, City agencies face the task of cutting spending; in City-speak, these budget reductions are known as Programs to Eliminate the Gap (PEGs). Over the last several decades in NYC, Peg'd has become the most unlikely of verbs, as in "this program just got Peg'd," meaning the City budget proposal includes a program that will be restructured or eliminated for cost savings.

PEG'd Away also explores the changing role of the City Council. Once, the Council was able to use its discretionary funding to support innovative initiatives and meet emerging community needs. Now, this one-year discretionary funding is used to keep core human services afloat. Learn more by downloading PEG'd Away or viewing it online

Unfinished Business: Last Year's Headlines Remain This Year's Issues

Thursday, January 03, 2013
A recap by New York Nonprofit Press on the big stories from 2012 that have yet to be resolved. UNH's Policy Analyst Gregory Brender was quoted in the following excerpt:

Inadequate Funding 

And, on the ground, EarlyLearn providers are continuing to express concerns about the inadequacy of funding to support the new program model.  “It is a huge issue,” says Gregory Brender, Early Childhood and Education Policy Analyst at United Neighborhood Houses.  

One aspect of the problem was the need for EarlyLearn provider agencies to pick up the costs of providing health insurance and other benefits for program staff – an expense which had traditionally been paid directly by the City itself.   Even after additional funding was added, providers found the resources to be insufficient to purchase benefit plans that did not require significant increases in employee contributions.  

And, providers continue to anticipate significant operating losses on the programs themselves. “The rate still isn’t adequate to cover the cost of care,” says Brender.  “Providers are having a hard time covering their costs while providing services that meet their own standards and those of the EarlyLearn model.”

Read the whole article here>>

Mixture of Hope and Concern for City's New Daycare Program

Friday, July 27, 2012

The city hopes EarlyLearn will make for higher-quality city-funded daycare. Despite funding shortages and doubts about the way contracts were awarded, some agencies and advocates believe the program has promise.

Read the full article>>

UNH Responds to Mayor Bloomberg's FY 2013 Executive Budget

Thursday, May 03, 2012


  70 West 36th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10018-8007
 Phone: (212) 967-0322   Fax: (212) 967-0792

For Immediate Release: May 3, 2012
Contact: Annetta Seecharran, Director of Policy and Advocacy, (212) 967-0322 x329

United Neighborhood Houses Responds to the Mayor’s Failure to Restore Funding for Child Care and After-School in his Executive Budget

“United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) is outraged by the lack of commitment to children, working families, and older adults that is revealed in the Mayor’s Executive Budget this year.

The Mayor’s complete failure to restore funds to child care and after-school programs, including Out-of-School Time (OST), is nothing short of disgraceful. It is a hit to not only the 47,000 children who will lose the critical educational and social support they are provided through these programs, but to their parents, who will be forced to quit their jobs to take care of their children or leave them alone after the school day ends.  Thousands of jobs will be lost at non-profit agencies with the shuttering of these programs. In the UNH agency network alone, over 50% of OST programs, which service approximately 6,000 children, are already slated for closure.

This budget devastates the infrastructure that keeps hard-working parents in their jobs, provides children and youth with productive educational opportunities, and strengthens the current and future generations of New Yorkers. The fact that services supporting low-income communities including after-school and child care programs have failed to rise to the top of the Mayor’s priority list is shameful.”

United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) is the membership organization of New York City settlement houses and community centers. Rooted in the history and values of the settlement house movement, UNH promotes and strengthens the neighborhood-based, multi-service approach to improving the lives of New Yorkers in need and the communities in which they live. UNH’s membership comprises one of the largest human service systems in new York City, with 37 agencies working at more than 400 sites to provide high quality services and activities to a half million New Yorkers each year. UNH supports its members through policy development, advocacy, and capacity building activities.


Download statement here.