The nonprofit human service sector’s budget battles moved from Albany to New York City yesterday when more than 700 children from after-school programs rallied outside City Hall to urge the Mayor not to cut 47,000 children from child care and after-school programs.
The Mayor’s Preliminary Budget for Fiscal Year 2014, announced earlier this year, includes more than $130 million in budget cuts to the City’s after-school and early education systems. These cuts would eliminate programs for more than 47,000 children from mostly low-income families – the same number of children who were set to lose programs last year.
At the rally, hundreds of children from city after-school programs, including many from the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) network, joined parents, providers, and advocates from the Campaign for Children to demonstrate why after-school programs are essential to their success in school and in life.
“Our after-school program provides my son with opportunities I couldn’t afford to give him otherwise,“ said Lissette Placencia, a parent from SCO’s Center for Family Life, Brooklyn. “I can’t imagine what I’d do if our after-school program is forced to close. I won’t have a safe and supportive place for my son to go while I’m at work.“
“After-school and early childhood education serve as the foundation for success for our City’s children and youth. These programs provide them with the instruction, guidance, and tools to help them reach their full potential,“ said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO/Executive Director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA). “Our event is about spring and celebrating how children and youth grow and flourish from early childhood education and after-school programs. We call on our City leaders to invest in these supports because we want our children to continue to blossom.“
The Mayor’s Preliminary Budget for FY2014 includes:
- None of City Council’s one-year funds: $120 million of last year’s restoration is one-year, discretionary money that will run out in June. The Preliminary Budget includes none of this funding, which will cause hundreds of programs – programs that just fought for funding in last year’s budget cycle – to have to shut their doors to the children they serve.
- An Additional $10 million cut to after-school programs: This new cut to Out-of-School Time (OST) after-school programs, an after-school initiative created by Mayor Bloomberg himself in 2005, will eliminate slots for more than 3,600 children.
Research has shown that children who attend child care and youth who participate in after-school programs do better in school, are more likely to graduate, and have lower incidences of violence, drug-use, and teen pregnancy. These programs also allow working parents to keep their jobs – jobs that support their families and our local economy.
“If the City closes our after-school program, my daughter will be home alone until I get home from work at night. I’m afraid she’ll fall behind in school, and stay behind,“ said Moraima Cruz, a parent from the YWCA at PS 329, Brooklyn.
“My after-school program gave me the skills and confidence to be a leader in my community,“ stated Robert Ortiz, staff member and alumni of the after-school program at SCO Family ofServices’s Center for Family Life.
“A mainstay for youth and workforce development in the Lower East Side, Henry Street Settlement recognizes the transformative potential that after-school programs hold for not only the participants served, but the community as a whole,“ stated Matthew Phifer, Director of Education Services for Henry Street Settlement. “When learning continues during after-school hours through interactive and thought provoking activities, aligned with school day subject matter, there’s a salientcorrelation to improved academic performance and positive behaviors. To lose the opportunity to provide such services would not only be detrimental to our agencies, but would be a true disservice to the future of this city.“
“In my 27 years at PS 1, a school based site of Center for Family Life (a program of SCO Family of Services), I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact that an adequately funded after-school program can have on young people,“ said Helene Onserud, Center for Family Life Director, Community School Project Beacon at PS 1. “The Center for Family Life has a long and distinguished history of providing after-school supports to generations of families. In addition, because we are close-knit, we have historically employed staff from families throughout our community for many years. The staff are remarkably knowledgeable, caring and absolutely committed to the children they work with in after-school programs.“
Under the Mayor’s cuts, Out-of-School Time (OST) after-school programs will be hit hard. The Mayor’s proposal would mean slots for children slashed by 75% in just five years – from 87,256 children in 2008 to just 21,482 slots due to be available this coming September.