PHOTOS: Agudath Israel Activists Deliver 30,000 ‘Priority 7′ Letters to City Hall

(Wednesday, June 10th, 2009)

70.jpg[PHOTO LINK BELOW] Letters from 30,000 Orthodox Jewish parents were delivered by Agudath Israel community activists to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg this afternoon.

The missives make the case for preserving a city program than benefits needy parents, the large majority of them in the city’s Orthodox community, to the tune of approximately $15 million a year. 

The program provides child care vouchers to parents of school-age children if certain criteria are met. Under “Priority 7″ of the program, vouchers are provided to families where one parent is working full time and the other faces a substantial degree of social difficulty without child care assistance.

With its often large families and particular financial challenges, the city’s Orthodox community has been the main beneficiary of the Priority 7 category. Some 2000 child care vouchers, worth approximately $15 million dollars to their recipients, have been distributed yearly to parents in heavily Orthodox parts of New York. Mr. Bloomberg’s proposed budget would eliminate Priority 7, prompting the outpouring of concern.

Joining the Agudath Israel activists and leaders on the steps of City Hall were City Councilmembers Bill de Blasio, Simcha Felder, Lewis A. Fidler, Melinda R. Katz, Michael C. Nelson, David I. Weprin and David Yassky.

“This is not a protest,” said Agudath Israel of America vice president for community affairs Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz. ”It is a simple – and unprecedented – demonstration of how much this program means to our community, and a plea to the Mayor that he reconsider.”

Added Rabbi David Zwiebel, the organization’s executive vice president: “We hope that if we bring City Hall’s attention to the fact that the elimination of Priority 7 will have a disproportionate effect on a particular segment of the city’s population – us – they will reconsider and find a way to let whatever cuts are absolutely necessary be distributed fairly among all priority groups.”

In 2002, Priority 7 was also endangered, and Mayor Bloomberg, noting the disproportionate effect removing the priority would have, rescinded the proposed elimination.

At that time he said “I’ve said repeatedly that New Yorkers need to share the pain of budget cuts, but that the pain shouldn’t fall on anyone or any group unfairly.”

YWN PHOTO LINK: Click HERE for photos.

(YWN Desk – NYC)

7 Comments

  1. sammm says:

    This strikes me a little funny. I myself have a one year old baby, and I pay full day care. I pay $4.50 an hour, and this amounts to about $4,000 a year.
    Well, if you take $15 million and divide it by 2000 children, that adds up to $7,500 per child. That’s almost double what I pay.
    I would guess there are some individuals really profiting from this.
    Now if you said this program was benefiting 4000 children…

  2. askan says:

    #1 sammm,
    The federal minimum wage is $6.55 per hour effective July 24, 2008; …hmmm

  3. sammm says:

    Kind askin, there are at least 3 other children being watched. That is a few pennies more than minimum wage. Please don’t try to tell me that the yeshivas are paying their daycare staff the minimum wage per child.

  4. askan says:

    oh samm, I was talking about you! paying off the books? You?
    You have one child so you say. What do you really know how much or little Yeshivos are paying their staff?
    Your point is not relevant because your unfamilier with the program. Please do us a favor and dont conjecture its not fair.
    But after reading your comments again and
    after thinking about it. Yours was the first comment on this thread and you were very eager to get your negaitve thought out first. Leads me to think, that maybe your really not who you claim to be.Me thinks that just maybe you have another agenda here….hmmm

  5. well meaning busy bo says:

    Just wondring if 2000 vouchers means 2000 children
    or 2000 families. it cis quite possible for one
    family to have 2 preschool children.

    What about other non-labor costs?

    Why is everybody talking about minimum wage? What kind of help do you get for minimum wage? If the child care employee has to pay for child care herself is minimum wage enough ?

  6. sammm says:

    Kind askin, I do not have an agenda. I was just reflecting about how much I pay for daycare and noticed a discrepancy. And I misunderstood the article to mean that it payed for their childcare. But alas I was mistaken, and I am wrong. And I apologise for that. But in any case, $7,500 per child for an after school program seems excesive to me. It is actualy more than full tuition in most boro park chasidish yeshivas. And just for the record, everything I earn is on the books.

  7. askan says:

    sammm I accept your explanantion and didnt mean to bash you personally.But please understand how tired I am of the same negative posts day after day. Finally some positive news for a change and here we go right back to negative. From the looks of things this appears to be a great diplay of Achdus and community organizing. As you know (its not a secret ) our community has not been getting close to the government assistance we should be.Everybody knows that the only question left is- can we and will we fight for our share? Finally a day to fight back for equity and we are stuck here talking about the merits and honesty of the program and its recipiants.C’mon we are better than that.
    Repected organizations from a broad coalition working together side by side- how refreshing. The Agudah, both sides of Satmar, Bobov and many really terrific community Askonim working on behalf of the most needy of the entire community. A great story! 30,000 signatures in just a few days is very impressive and something we should be all be applauding and supporting. The decks are always stacked against us in so many areas. The only way we will truly be sucessful is if we put aside our petty differences and work together for the common good. I for one get tremendous Nachas when I see Jews of all stripes working together.
    Lets fight together to solve the problems that are worth fighting for.

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