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NYC grandparents urge Mayor Adams to reverse cuts to public 3-K program

Cayla Bamberger, New York Daily News on

Published in News & Features

NEW YORK — With just days left to finalize a city spending plan, grandparents are joining a chorus of New York City Council members, parents, union leaders and advocates voicing opposition to Mayor Eric Adams’ plan to cut the 3-K budget.

More than 140 older New Yorkers signed onto a letter to Adams on Monday to reverse cuts to early childhood education. His executive plan would shave $170 million off the budget this summer, citing thousands of empty seats and uncertain funding after federal pandemic aid expires.

“Many of us serve as the primary child care option for our grandchildren before they are able to enter 3-K and Pre-K, and we often fill in gaps in care beyond typical daycare hours or during the summer,” read the memo, organized by New Yorkers United for Childcare.

“While we cherish our role … grandparents should not bear the burden of a problem that the city can address,” it added.

Adams at an education press conference Monday deflected blame for issues with the program, reiterating a commitment to provide every family who wants a 3-K seat with an offer.

“It is mind-boggling to me that people are blaming us for the fiasco of the 3-K, pre-K,” he said at Samara Community School in the South Bronx. “We inherited a mess. We inherited a mess.”

Shelly Leal, 71, travels about an hour each way to care for her daughter’s toddler in Brooklyn. Leal said she had to leave her job as a teacher when she had children, and she doesn’t want the same for her daughter, who works in human resources.


Leal considers her family fortunate: They secured a spot in a 3-K program that, though it was not high among their choices, is close to home. But the hours don’t line up with her daughter’s work schedule. They’ll have to pay out of pocket for aftercare, or turn to Leal to help during holidays and with her younger grandson, who is 9 months old.

“It becomes a family affair,” she said. “We don’t mind doing it — but it’s difficult.”

About 84% of applicants to 3-K for this fall received an offer to one of up to 12 choices, admissions data show. About 2,400 families did not receive a placement on offer day but may received waitlist offers.

“Thanks to our efforts, the overwhelming majority of children are getting into the early childhood programs their parents wanted them in,” Amaris Cockfield, a spokeswoman for Mayor Adams, said in a statement.

“We look forward to an adopted budget that reflects the administration and the Council’s mutual priorities.”

A mismatch between open seats in some neighborhoods — while waitlists persist in others — has contributed to intense budget negotiations between Adams and the City Council before the July 1 deadline. Council members have accused the administration of mismanaging the program.

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