Three Councilmembers representing large swaths of New York City’s Orthodox Jewish community announced today that they have joined forces to combat the city’s proposed cuts to the Priority 7 voucher program. Priority 7 vouchers are used by more than 1,000 families throughout New York City to pay for after-school programs for their children. Councilmembers David G. Greenfield (D-Brooklyn), Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), and Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) met in City Hall yesterday for two hours to discuss strategies for saving this critical program and declared that restoring these vouchers will be their top priority over the weeks ahead.
Councilmembers Greenfield, Lander, and Levin said that over the next several weeks they will arrange community meetings, rallies, and press conferences in order to highlight the inequity in eliminating this program. The Brooklyn Councilmembers pledged to continue working with other city officials to save the Priority 7 program that has been eliminated in the city’s budget.
For more than a dozen years, needy families have been able to provide much-needed after-school care for their children by utilizing Priority 7 vouchers. The program, which largely benefits needy families in Brooklyn’s large Orthodox Jewish community, has enabled thousands of young children to participate in professionally run programs at child-care centers and schools. Under the Priority 7 program, eligible families can receive up to nearly $300 per week per child for after-school care. In order to participate in the program, families must produce referrals from social service professionals attesting to their eligibility.
“Priority 7 vouchers are a lifeline for thousands of needy families,” said Councilman Greenfield, who represents Boro Park & Flatbush. “Eliminating this vital program would disproportionately impact frum families in Brooklyn neighborhoods who rely on this invaluable after-school program. If the proposed elimination goes into effect, it would be a devastating blow to the community. Working together, we will do everything in our power to restore these vouchers.”
Last year, these same vouchers were also eliminated from the budget. After a major advocacy campaign by leading elected officials and askanim these voucher were restored temporarily. Unfortunately, they were only able to get an agreement for a one-year extension. As a result, the program is set to expire at the end of this school year.
“Free and affordable childcare is critical to the survival of so many families in Brooklyn, particularly those in the Orthodox Jewish community,” said Councilmember Levin, who represents Williamsburg. “Orthodox Jewish families won’t have the option of sending their children to another childcare center. If we eliminate Priority 7, we are eliminating after-school programs in yeshivas and we are eliminating a safety net for these families. Protecting these vouchers is our top priority.”
“I’m proud to partner with Councilmembers Greenfield and Levin in leading the fight against the elimination of the Priority 7 voucher program,” said Councilman Lander, who represents parts of Boro Park. “Thousands of families rely on these vouchers, and the proposed cuts are unacceptable and outrageous. We are calling on the administration to restore this vital program to its full funding level, and we will do everything we can to make sure our communities are protected from losing these vouchers.”
(YWN Desk – NYC)