(NEW YORK) — Day Care Council Of New York said the city owes millions of dollars to child care centers, and the payment debacle may be affecting thousands of families forced to find a new early education center for their child in the middle of the school year. 

For example, Sheltering Arms is closing all of the early childhood education programs, six of them throughout the city.

“As we announced on Sept. 30, Sheltering Arms Children and Family Services is deeply saddened to be closing our Early Childhood Education program due to insufficient funding from our NYC government contracts. We remain committed to building brighter futures for New York City’s most marginalized communities through our many remaining programs and services, such as mental health, housing for homeless youth, foster care, after-school, and more. Our early childhood centers served our families well thanks to our dedicated staff, and it is disappointing that we will not be able to provide what is a critical resource in determining a child’s future.” Said the Sheltering Arms CEO.

Parents from those early education programs tell us there was no other option close to their home with a quality education because no seats are available in the middle of the school year at other 3K and pre-k sites. 

A Department of Education spokesperson said:

Last year, the DOE contracted with ~800 CBOs and charter schools across ~1,200 different contracts. To date, the DOE has made payments totaling over $900 million. To receive payment, providers must submit invoices with information about enrollment and attendance, and many providers have yet to submit all their FY22 invoices. Contracted providers are paid based on enrollment and actual expenses, and the current instability is largely due to a misallocation of seats that doesn’t match community demand, thus creating thousands of empty seats. Substantial cash advances were paid to providers and tailored support is offered to address programs with any financial difficulties to the extent possible.

The Day Care Council Of New York represents 100 providers across New York City and said, “MORE THAN 40 percent had been late in payments, many of them had missed payroll missed payment to vendors, and many took out loans in order to keep going they are essentially fronting the money for the city because they have not been paid services they had provided.” 

More than 126,000 kids under five rely on city contract early childhood programs. While some city day cares have seen enrollment challenges, shutting their doors could be dire consequences.

“As but as we see more closures. It’s going to affect more and more families. It will be a crisis for the families and employers with parents losing day care.”