GOWANUS, N.Y. - Brooklyn parents are mobilizing against New York City Mayor Eric Adams’s proposed budget cuts to the Department of Education which will weaken the beloved Pre-K and 3-K programs across the city.
"I don't know what we would do without Pre-K," said Patrick McClellan, a father of a four-year-old boy and two-year-old boy.
The programs were major accomplishments under the de Blasio administration but landing a spot in a classroom was difficult then and will be even more so now.
Melissa Turoff lives in Carroll Gardens and has a 21-month-old son named Leo. She has long been preparing for the difficult-to-navigate programs.
"You have to strategize years and years ahead of when they're actually going to turn three [years old] to even have a chance at getting into a school you want," Turoff said.
The proposed cuts will reportedly lessen the DOE budget by $547 million dollars. Of that, at least $120 million would be stripped from Pre-K and 3-K programs impacting at least 10,000 children.
Dozens of parents and would-be parents have now formed a new organization called New Yorkers United for Child Care to fight against these cuts. The launch party took place on Saturday at the Bell House in Gowanus with face painting and games. Babies also sported onesies that read, "I want free child care."
Rebecca Bailin is a co-founder of the new group.
"Data has shown that universal programs make a huge difference for all families," Bailin said.
They've found that the lack of affordable child care is a big reason why families leave New York City. It's something Hillary Dalton, who is seven months pregnant and lives in Williamsburg, is considering.
"We don't make a ton of money, but we make enough to live on and we'd go a lot of further especially for daycare costs outside of the city limits," Dalton said.
They hope their efforts not only strengthen funding for the Pre-K and 3-K programs but also make free childcare for children under five years old a reality for all families.
It's something councilmember Jennifer Gutierrez, (D) District 34, is working on in the City Council under the Universal Child Care bill.
The budget cuts will begin to go into effect immediately but will head to the City Council for approval next week.