Sunday, June 7, 2015

Council member calls for more transparency from A.C.S.

City Councilman Andy King joined about 100 children, parents and instructors outside a city subsidized day care center in the Bronx on Wednesday to protest the city's decision not to award the center a new contract.
King criticized the Administration for Children's Services for a lack of transparency in its decision to no longer contract with the Williamsbridge NAACP Early Childhood Learning Center, which has operated for 44 years and which will be forced to close.

"What we're disputing is the process on how they select the people," he said. "It's not transparent. ... We don't even know the people who are sitting in a room who are making these decisions."
King said that the agency has been unresponsive to requests for more information about 12 early childhood learning centers around the city that are closing

"We have asked for transparency in the [request for proposals] process and we have not gotten the answers," said King. "We asked for the scores for these centers that have been awarded the R.F.P. for their scores and we have not gotten those answers."

Leaders at the center were especially surprised that they weren't awarded a contract from A.C.S. since the city's Department of Education approved the center to run pre-kindergarten care for the upcoming school year. The educators at the center also faulted A.C.S.'s lack of communication.

"A.C.S.'s response was just in a written format that we were not awarded the contract, they were very abrupt and to the point," said Cheryl Dewitt, the center's director. "I don't know how the contract that we applied for is not good enough for A.C.S. but is good enough for the Department of Education. Even if they felt that something was wrong, there are reviews that the agency can put into place that if something is wrong, they can then give us the opportunity to correct it."

A.C.S. subsidizes slightly more than 300 daycare centers through its EarlyLearn NYC program, which seats a total of 30,000 children.

"Providing affordable, quality early education is a priority for this administration, and we are acticvely working with these providers to find alternative funding options, A.C.S. spokesman Christopher McKniff, said in a statement Wednesday evening.

The press conference was the latest attack on A.C.S. in recent weeks.

Last Thursday, several City Council members held a rally at City Hall calling for the administration to change how it negotiates leases and keeping daycare centers open. At a May 19 hearing of the Council’s general welfare committee, members grilled A.C.S. officials for not reporting back on the rate A.C.S. pays to Early Learn providers.