|DYCD's OST Awards Cut 172 Programs|
|Wednesday, 02 May 2012 02:56|
Youth services providers are reeling following the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development’s announcement of programs eligible for new Out-of-School Time (OST) contract awards. The DYCD selections, which were mailed to individual nonprofit agencies last week and are now available in complete form, drive home with painful clarity the impact of a staggering 43% reduction in the overall size of the program and the loss of after-school slots for nearly 25,000 children. In total, an estimated 172 programs will be lost, as the number of OST contract awards drops from 396 to 224.
“After-school programs around the city are receiving word that their programs will not be able to continue,” said the Campaign for Children, a coalition of after-school and early childhood services providers and advocates. “Many programs, despite providing high-quality services to hard-working low-income families, will be forced to close for the sole reason that the city budget has proposed dramatic funding reductions for these services. At a time when the economy is beginning to improve, the loss of these essential after-school programs will devastate families that are already barely scraping by. Without after-school programs, many parents risk the loss of much-needed wages, or even the loss of their jobs.
“In 20 years of working in this area, I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Michelle Yanche, Director of Public Policy at Good Shepherd Services. “These are such important programs. It is amazing to me that they are threatened in this way, especially at a time when the economy is starting to improve and families are trying to hold on to their jobs.”
DYCD stressed fiscal pressures impacting the City in its response to the concerns expressed by advocates. "The City will continue to provide high-quality, comprehensive services to our students through the Out of School Time program, and we are working within our financial reality to do so," said Cathleen Collins, Deputy Chief of Staff at DYCD.
The relative loss of programs vary by borough based on DYCD’s assessment of need by zip codes. Advocates estimate that:
In Brooklyn, for example, CAMBA, will be losing programs at P.S. 139 and P.S. in Flatbush.
“When these two after-school programs are closed, almost 400 children will be out on the street at the end of the school day. With alternatives scarce, their working parents will face a heartbreaking dilemma: leave their children home alone or risk losing their jobs,” said Joanne M. Oplustil, Executive Director of CAMBA, which operates OST programs at 10 schools in Brooklyn.
“Many parents at P.S. 139 need CAMBA so they can work,” said Mary McDonald, Principal of P.S. 139. “Without the CAMBA program at 139, I am concerned that our students will be going home to empty apartments where they will not be supervised, where they will not get support with their homework.”
“After-school is very important to me,” said Petronila Solano whose two children attend the P.S. 139 program. “If it’s closed, I would have to give up my job. I don’t want them staying alone.”
CAMBA is also losing additional OST programs in other boroughs.
In another example, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens (CCBQ) will be losing programs at PS 106 in Bushwick Brooklyn and PS 50 program in South Jamaica, Queens—both identified as high need areas/zip codes in the original RFP.
“These cuts are a devastating blow to the 600 families we serve,” said Mary Hurson, Administrator of Family Services at CCBQ. “The CCBQ Out-of-School Time programs are essential to helping children succeed academically and to develop positive social skills. Afterschool programs are an alternative to the streets for many children and the only safe option for hard working parents. There is no other alternative for many low-income families. An essential part of their support system has collapsed.”
With 172 programs now targeted for elimination, the impact of these service cuts will be felt by children and families across the City. The full list of programs to be closed continues to grow as advocates gather information regarding individual agencies programs not included on the list of new contract award recommendations.
Advocates are gearing up to fight for the restoration of funding. The Campaign for Children, which is also seeking restoration of proposed funding cuts in early childhood programs, has been mounting a series of call-in days and letter writing campaigns. More than 1,300 families called in to the City requesting restoration of funding on Monday. As more and more families learn that their programs are in jeopardy, the number of similar calls is likely to grow.
“There is still time to save after-school for these children,” said the Campaign for Children, which is organizing the advocacy effort. We urge the Mayor to reconsider these cuts, and instead fully fund child care and after-school programs in his Executive Budget.”