NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Daycare owners from Brooklyn to the Bronx claim they are still jumping through hoops to get money for Pre-K and 3-K from the city.
Last fall, the Department of Education entered into an agreement with the City Council to resolve delayed reimbursements, yet some providers are saying the crucial funds are still stuck and they may have to close.
The 3-year-olds come marching into their free Pre-K. They have snacks and warm naps, oblivious to the struggle just to keep the doors open.
"We don't know when we're going to get paid," Let's Play and Learn daycare Co-Director Olena Knyzhnyk said.
The Park Slope daycare says it's owed $54,433.08 in start-up expenses and is waiting for the city's payment on some invoices from last year. To make rent and payroll for five employees, they say they took out a loan.
"We are taking our savings, we had to take a credit line to cover our expenses," Let's Play and Learn daycare Co-Director Yuliya Pavlotskaya said.
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The women joined other non-profit childcare providers complaining about the NYC DOE's delays in funding to provide universal 3-K, an initiative announced as a way to help all families access free childcare.
"The mayor and the deputy chancellor, they have press conferences and they talk about expanding Pre-K and 3-K and providing these services for families and their children, but how are we supposed to do that without funding," said Joanna Vogel of Queens Days Care Provider.
Vogel is fearful that she will have to shutter her Elmhurst daycare center if they can't collect funds from the city.
"If we have to close, that's 33 children and families that will have to be out of school and would have to stay home," she said.
The DOE claims both Pre-Ks didn't upload invoices properly in the system. The teachers admit their own errors caused delays as well.
A spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams said the following in a statement:
"Our administration's efforts to stabilize the finances of our early childhood program are working - we have paid over $110 million in outstanding invoices from last year and over $500 million in invoices this year. The staff at the DOE work around the clock to process payments and provide support to programs. We are encouraging organizations with issues with processing their payments to contact us to expedite their processing, and we will continue to support our providers. It is incredibly disappointing that organizations expected to help service childcare providers are choosing to disregard that vital work and instead spread misinformation within the sector."
The Mayor's Office of Contract Services testified at a City Council hearing Monday, that they are working to outsource a way for billions in funds to be streamlined to vendors.
"We provided an update of where we on now on the backlog - which is $5.4 million cleared of the initial $6.4 billion that was identified," said Lisa Flores, Director of the Mayor's Office of Contract Service.
The joint oversight hearing heard from dozens of non-profits running services for the homeless, seniors, and children without public funds they counted on in city contracts.
"We told them there was a crisis in early education where childcare providers were not being paid on time," said Greg Brender, Chief of Policy and Innovation at Day Care Council of New York.
"We are seeing a very big mess of something that we very badly need to fix," said Councilmember Julie Won, the City Council Contracts Committee chair. "The first thing we need to get are all the daycare centers that had students fairly registered correctly with regulations, they need to be paid on time."
But less than 24 hours after 7 On Your Side told the DOE about the daycare centers, three payments were approved for a total of $151,840.67. The city says the payments were already in the pipeline before 7 On Your Side advocated.
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