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City Falls Behind on Goal to Offer 100,000 Free Childcare Seats When School Begins

Mayor Bill de Blasio visited a school in Brooklyn on Wednesday, Sept. 2 (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Sept. 8, 2020 By Allie Griffin

New York City has fallen behind on its goal to offer 100,000 free childcare seats when schools reopen for blending learning — with the mayor now saying only 30,000 seats will be available on Sept. 21, the first day of school.

The city will build out the program to 70,000 seats by the end of October and finally reach its goal of 100,000 seats in December.

The city is offering the free daycare to help working parents who cannot stay home to supervise their children on days they are in class remotely. Most children will have remote instruction two to three days a week and attend class in person on the other days of the week under the city’s blending learning model.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had said the 100,000 slots would be ready by the time school starts when he announced the childcare program in July. There are 1.1 million students at public school.

“The goal is to have everything ready for September,” de Blasio said at the time.

The mayor said it has taken longer than expected to implement the program since it is a new concept that involves many city agencies coming together.

“Starting something from scratch is a huge endeavor,” he said, and the city had to “ensure that it would be safe, it would be free, it could be available.”

The free childcare program, called Learning Bridges, is available to parents of students in 3-K through 8th grade, but is prioritized to families with the greatest need.

Priority for the program will be given to families who live in shelters, hotels and public housing; children of DOE staff; children in foster care or child welfare services; students with disabilities and children whose parents are essential workers.

The childcare sites will be paired to individual schools so that students won’t be mixed between different student bodies to limit their number of interactions as the pandemic remains ongoing.

The program isn’t available to parents who chose to enroll their children in fully remote learning.

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