December 12, 2008

NYC agrees to pay child care providers overdue wages

Source: United Federation of Teachers

Faced with the threat of a massive protest by the United Federation of Teachers outside its headquarters in Lower Manhattan on Dec. 12, the New York City Administration for Children's Services released $200,000 to pay 98 home-based child care providers who had not been paid since Nov. 9.

UFT President Randi Weingarten then canceled the demonstration and issued the following news release.

City agrees to pay child care providers overdue wages

Dec 11, 2008 6:03 PM

Under pressure from the UFT, the New York City Administration for Children's Services (ACS) agreed to pay backdated wages to 98 home-based child care providers who have not been paid since Nov. 9, UFT President Randi Weingarten announced on Dec. 11.

The ACS had not paid the child care providers from the East New York (ENY) network because the city did not promptly renew the ENY's contract last month and had stopped delivering funding for bi-weekly pay. As a result, providers were missing checks that were due on Nov. 24 and Dec. 8.

The union had planned to stage a demonstration the morning of Dec. 12 outside the agency's headquarters at 150 William Street but canceled it after ACS Commissioner John Mattingly relented and produced two $100,000 checks for ENY.

"While I am grateful that Commissioner Mattingly came through today, expediting checks to East New York Network, in general the way the ACS has treated home day care providers in New York City is outrageous, and it must stop," Weingarten said. She went on to note that the city is the only municipality in the state that, separate and apart from paying timely, still is not paying providers at the higher rate approved by the state last year. The fight to get the ACS to pay the higher rate is ongoing and will be the subject of a City Council hearing scheduled for next week.

The providers, who care for thousands of city children in subsidized home settings, are among the lowest-paid workers in the metropolitan region. The average annual wage for providers in New York City is about $19,610. The federal poverty line for a family of four in 2004 was $18,850.

Providers have reported that ACS frequently mails monthly time sheet forms late, delaying providers' pay. The automated child care payment system CAPS has been reported down many times this year, preventing providers from verifying their hours.

Providers like Angela Curry, 44, from East Flatbush felt the impact immediately.

"I can't miss two paychecks and keep living as normal," Curry said. Since August, she has cared for four children, including her grandson. Curry was owed $1,500 and had turned away three of those children and had to find other work to cover her bills. She has been unable to buy groceries for her own children, including Thanksgiving dinner, and was not able to pay her rent on Dec. 1.

New York is the eighth state to let home-based providers unionize. They receive government subsidies to watch, care for and educate children from low-income families in pre-school and after-school settings. They provide meals and snacks, help children with reading, learning colors and numbers, help with homework, direct safe play and change diapers.