Youth Service Providers and Advocates Call for Albany to Restore After-School Programs and Summer Jobs

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Advocates Call for the State to Maintain After-School Slotsto Keep Parents Working

Contact:John P. Albert, VP, External Relations, The After-School Corporation - 917-686-1147 - jalbert@tascorp.org

With after-school programs facing tough financial times, after-school service providers and advocates came to Albany to testify at a hearing on the state budget on Wednesday, February 10 to remind legislators of what parents do while kids are in after-school programs: hold down jobs and contribute to the strength of the state’s economy. After-school programs are a critical support for parents in New York State’s workforce.

Currently eight out of ten kids live in households where both parents work. And while approximately 400,000 K-12 students in New York State attend after-school programs, another 600,000 have no adult supervision after school.

In tough economic times, families depend on public funding for after-school programs to keep children safe and supervised while parents are at work or searching for work. After-school programs also employ thousands of people across New York State. Proposed cuts to after-school programs will eliminate access to programs for more than 10,000 children, while up to 3,000 jobs may be lost in the after-school field.

Advocates urged legislators to restore after-school funding to FY 10 levels approved in April of 2009, resulting in:

  • $30.5 million to the Advantage After School Program through the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). The Governor’s budget proposal reduces Advantage by nearly $11 million, adding to the December cut of $2.4 million and resulting in a cut of 44% in one year. If this most recent cut occurs, nearly 9,000 kids will lose access to Advantage programs.
  • $27.8 million for the Extended School Day/School Violence Prevention Program through the State Education Department (SED).

Advocates also urged legislators to:

  • Restore Funding to the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) to $35 million so that 25,000 young people state-wide can continue to work and provide essential services in the communities where they live; and
  • Support the Executive Budget recommendation to fund The Youth Development and Delinquency Prevention Program (YDDP) and Special Delinquency Prevention Program (SDPP), at $28,243,400, an increase of $784,567 from SFY 2009-10 and the Runaway Homeless and Youth Program at $4,711,600, an increase of $130,933 from SFY 2009-10.

If the FY 11 budget is passed as currently proposed by the Governor, FY 11 will see the smallest state investment in after-school since 2000.

“Given the magnitude of these cuts, I worry that this could be the beginning of a dismantling of the statewide after-school system that’s taken a decade to build,” TASC President Lucy N. Friedman said. “These are daily after-school programs that are independent of school budgets. Parents have come to depend on them to engage their kids more deeply in learning and to offer them academic support, enrichments and healthy meals. We understand the state is dealing with reduced revenues, but the harm outweighs the savings when we eliminate programs that help parents find or keep jobs.”

“With rising high school drop-out rates and increasing incidences of gang violence and delinquency in our neighborhoods, now is not the time to reduce our investment in afterschool programming. Working families across the state depend on the programs at Boys and Girls Clubs to ensure the safety of their children and to promote their healthy academic and social development,” said Maggie Duffy, New York State Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs. “We urge the legislature to restore these critical afterschool funding streams.”

According to Ron Soloway, Managing Director of Government and External Relations at UJA Federation of New York: “UJA-Federation of Jewish Philanthropy affiliated agencies operate a wide range of after school service programming, which provide vulnerable young people with enhanced educational opportunities, youth development activities, delinquency prevention programming and a safe place to congregate after school,. To close after school programs is unwise and will result in more costs to society as a significant numbers of young people would be left unsupervised with no activities that engage them towards a positive future.”

These programs also complement existing efforts to keep kids safe. Recent reports from child advocacy organizations including the Governor’s Task Force for Transforming the Juvenile Justice System have called on New York State to reduce the use of juvenile placement and increase investments in community-based programs including after-school and youth employment services.

"The Executive Budget’s proposed cuts to community-based alternatives and youth services run counter to these recommendations and will undermine the state’s ability to serve youth closer to home and improve outcomes for youth." said Ailin Chen, Senior Policy Associate for Education, Juvenile Justice and Youth Services, Citizens' Committee for Children (CCC). "These programs are both cost-effective and have been proven to prevent delinquency and reduce re-entry into the juvenile justice system. New York State must seize the opportunity to invest in a robust network of community-based youth programs in order to avoid more costly interventions in the future."

The proposed budget also completely eliminates the State’s contribution to the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).

“Not only is SYEP good for young people, it’s also good for the economy,” said Gigi Li, Co-chair of the Campaign for Summer Jobs and Co-Director of the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition. “Youth typically spend the majority of their SYEP paychecks – they use the money to purchase items they need, such as clothes and school supplies, and help support their families. Since SYEP paychecks are going back into the community and helping to stimulate local economies, this is precisely the type of program we need to lift New York out of the recession.”