Echoing mayor's vow on school programs

To the Editor,
I am writing in regards to Pete Stidman’s April 2 article, “Menino: Preschool Programs will go on at Murphy, Other Sites.”

I would like to echo the Mayor’s promise that the preschool and after-school programs at the Murphy and eight other centers facing the elimination of city-funded staff positions will continue.

We currently operate a total of 42 preschool and after-school programs across Boston Centers for Youth & Families’ (BCYF) network. Of those programs, 32 operate without any city-funded staff and have for over 15 years, in some neighborhoods. Nine programs will be affected at the eight centers, and five of those are preschool programs that remain with city-funded staff, including the Murphy. These programs can be maintained and we have examples of successful models that build the foundations of early childhood education in quality affordable settings.

With the outside resources we have identified and by working with the Murphy Community Center Council and the Murphy Community Center staff, we will develop a sustainable business model so this program will continue to operate with the same level of service and quality that families have grown to expect from BCYF. We have been able to provide this program over the years at such a low cost that we do anticipate slight changes to the overall program that will likely include some measure of increase to the current fees. Parents have been paying less than two dollars an hour for preschool services and the center has not raised fees in over 10 years. We firmly believe that in the end this increase will still be as affordable as any similar childcare option in the city.

We have been working with the City of Boston’s Office of Budget Management and have come up with a plan that will give us an extension to keep the preschool employees on the City payroll until January 1. With the commitment from the Murphy Community Center Council and assurances from the Murphy Community Center administrative staff that this program will continue, this extension will give us additional time to ensure a smooth transition for everyone involved.

As a parent of two small children myself, I appreciate how important early childhood education is and this is why it is one of BCYF’s priorities. While the financial situation that is taking place nationwide is having a direct impact on the amount of funding available to the city and BCYF, the commitment from the Mayor is to children and families across the city and to ensure a sustainable future for the next 30 years and beyond.

Daphne Griffin, Executive Director, BCYF