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With daycares in crisis, New York pledges to speed up payments

At the same time, some centers have fewer children enrolled than expected. The city has earmarked funding for about 55,000 seats for 3-K, but centers have only filled about 38,000 this year, school officials said. If a provider signs a contract to serve 50 students but enrolls only 15, they must adjust their budget and will be paid less than expected.

Elizabeth McCarthy, chief executive of Sheltering Arms, said the de Blasio administration told her that if her preschools were struggling to fill classes during the pandemic, they would not face heavy penalties. But current school officials have only agreed to reimburse about 75% of last year’s expenses, or about $2 million over the six contracts, which included fixed costs like rent.

“If we hadn’t been there during Covid, a lot of these families would have struggled even more,” she said. “To think of not being part of the neighborhood and the support system for families who live very on the fringes is really heartbreaking.”

More than 100 Sheltering Arms workers could lose their jobs, although some are expected to move on to other programs within the organization.

Thursday’s announcement comes two weeks after Simone Hawkins, a senior official in the agency’s early years division that handled payments to contract preschools, left the education department. Ms Hawkins did not return requests for comment and Mr Banks said she left for ‘personal reasons’.

At a city council hearing last month that focused on late payment to providers, Ms Hawkins and Kara Ahmed, vice-chancellor for early childhood education, said more than 930 million dollars had been paid in reimbursements to providers for the last school year.

Dan Weisberg, the first vice-chancellor of schools, said the new rapid response team would include 20 to 25 current Education Department staff and City Hall would provide additional staff.


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