Day care cuts protested
Published Feb 18, 2010 10:17 PM
Working mothers and their children, unionized day care workers and community
supporters, outraged by slashed day care subsidies, marched and rallied in
protest Feb. 9 in downtown Buffalo, mobilized by the religious group
VOICE-Buffalo and an outspoken county government representative from the inner
city, Betty Jean Grant.
Buffalo protest against cuts in early
WW photo: Ellie Dorritie
Over 100 protesters weathered the cold, windy and snowy day to march to the
County Office Building, where they stood below the offices of the Social
Services Department and the County Executive chanting demands for reinstatement
of day care subsidies.
Millionaire county executive, Chris Collins, and his administration decided
that the subsidies that have made day care affordable for many families are too
expensive for county taxpayers. In December, almost without warning, the rules
were changed to eliminate subsidies for over 1,100 children — four in 10
of those who were covered last year. Parents were given only a 10-day
This was met with a shocked outcry from the community, and the county was
forced to extend the deadline to 30 days. Parents were told to find alternative
WW photo: Leslie Feinberg
Mothers protested that even that amount of time was ridiculously inadequate.
Many noted they needed day care because they did not have other resources for
caring for their children as they worked or went to school to attain job
skills. Others spoke about how they are portrayed as not wanting to work, which
is just not true, yet their efforts are sabotaged when day care support is
taken away, making reliable care for their children while working or going to
school impossible. They chanted “90 days” over and over, and
demanded more time to find the money.
WW photo: Leslie Feinberg
Sympathetic women county legislators representing the poorest districts have
revealed that there are surplus county funds that could be used to cover
subsidies until other sources can be found. Legislator Maria Whyte said there
is unanimity in the legislature to delay the cuts. Collins, however, refuses to
use the surplus funds. He and the powerful corporate forces behind him have
been under fire not only from working mothers but also from many other county
residents who are suffering from the impact of cuts to services that are not
mandated by state or federal bodies. This includes closing down the last two
health care clinics in inner-city poor neighborhoods.
Fewer and fewer people here believe that there’s not enough money for the
services people need. Instead, most are talking about the huge transfer of tax
money to the banks. People are also very aware of the county and city tax funds
that are repeatedly directed to Lake Erie waterfront development for big
business and expensive condos, even during this deep recession.
Protest signs on the march reflected the struggle between these rich corporate
forces and those representing the needs of working and poor people. Mothers and
children carried signs such as, “Cuts hurt our children” and
“Invest in our children’s future.” Voice-CSEA, the Voice of
Organized Independent Childcare Educators, showed that there is common interest
between those who need day care and those who provide it. They held up the
International Action Center’s sign that said, “No to more cuts!
Unite to fight for programs we need.”
Several protesters carried signs saying, “Cuts = Lost Jobs.” Youth
members of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) brought out supporters.
Other activists demanded, “Our tax dollars for our needs, not big
business!” and noted, “Big bucks for developers never trickle
down.” Protesters from the International Action Center and the Bail Out
the People Movement pointed out that there is enough money for day care, jobs
and all human needs.
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