Vol. 13, No. 5 March 9 - 22, 2000




Imagine working for two weeks, or four or six, and not getting paid. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many local day care providers. The problem was brought to light recently by Providers United, a network of home day care workers based in Fordham Bedford, and reported in the last issue of the Norwood News. BEGIN, the program governing child care for women in the city's welfare-to-work program, shortchanges providers of their pay by not informing them until two or more weeks after the fact that a client is no longer enrolled in BEGIN. The result is that many providers are not paid for their work and are out their expenses for items like construction paper and crayons. And sometimes BEGIN clients do not file the paperwork required to get the provider of care for their child into the payment system. Then it can be months before the provider realizes that the child is not properly enrolled and that she is not going to get paid for her work.

The providers have brought their concerns to BEGIN officials but no action has been taken. And Councilman Stephen DiBrienza told the Norwood News after our article appeared that the BEGIN problems are affecting providers citywide. The Human Resources Administration, the city agency that oversees BEGIN, says it's aware of the problem and is looking for solutions. One place to start, as the providers suggest, would be to simply designate someone at BEGIN who providers can contact when problems occur. And, when a mother brings her child to a provider for care, it might make more sense for the provider to take responsibility for the paperwork necessary to enroll the child in the payment system.

This is not an overwhelming public policy problem. It can be fixed quickly and easily if HRA officials would simply make it a priority. If the administration is really serious about creating job opportunities for women, and Providers United is a great example of poor women taking initiative by starting their own small businesses, it will address this problem immediately. Otherwise, as many providers fear, they could end up as BEGIN clients themselves.

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