WASHINGTON – Over 160 D.C. child care workers are losing their jobs and more than a dozen child care centers, mostly in Wards 6, 7 and 8, are being shut down.
It’s a move by D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty’s administration to privatize the system run by the Department of Parks and Recreation.
The centers are slated to be shut down by September 30th, but some city leaders are fighting the move.
Council Member Harry Thomas Jr. is the Chairman of the Department of Parks and Recreation. He has introduced emergency legislation and the Council unanimously passed it. It requires the Mayor to provide analysis of the impact of the closings prior to the closing or relocation of any of the services.
The Administration has not complied.
Now hundreds of families are scrambling to find day care.
Robin McKinney hasn’t been able to work in weeks. She has no one to watch her 2-year old daughter, Vegas.
She says, “It hurts me tremendously to know that child care is holding me back from going back to work.”
The D.C. school bus driver counted on the daycare services at Malcolm X Elementary in South East. Now the center and dozens more are being shut down.
Darlene Williams has worked with DPR as a child care provider for more than 10-years. She says she was suddenly let go and has not been paid. She blames the mayor.
She says, “It is a mess and Mayor Fenty made the mess.”
Mayor Fenty eliminated the budget for the early childhood and out of school time programs for next fiscal year. It’s a move to privatize the system. It’s forcing the closure of at least 20 D.C. run child care centers.
Now hundreds of families have no where to go or are faced with the tough task of finding other government run child care programs.
“This is a major crisis for us,” says Parisa Norouzi of Empower D.C.
It’s an advocacy group that’s helping to fight the move.
She says, “These programs were fully funded from federal money from the child care block grant and head start funds. This was not a local budget issue.
D.C. Council Member Harry Thomas, Jr. chairs the Department of Parks and Recreation. He says what’s going on is “outrageous”.