Queens Gazette: Queens Moms, Electeds Fight to Keep Child, After-School Programs Open

Four after-school programs in Queens threatened with closure in June sparked a rally to keep them open last Thursday by parents, youths, teachers and elected officials in cooperation with the Campaign for Children.

“After-school programs are vital to families across Queens,” Councilman Mark Weprin declared at the Queens Borough Hall rally.

Weprin (D-Oakdale), leader of the Queens Council Delegation, said the threatened after-school, early childhood education and other programs may close in June if not restored to the city budget, affecting 435 children in Queens.

The programs “keep children safe and engaged after school while allowing parents to work,” Weprin said.

All totaled, the cuts involve 17 programs for 1,882 children throughout the city. Of those, 435 kids in Queens in four programs would be affected. Money needed to avert these cuts is $5.9 million. In addition, 2,300 elementary after-school slots are threatened to be closed unless $7.7 million is added to the budget.

Recently released maps from Citizen’s Committee for Children, part of the Campaign for Children, show that the 17 sites are  in communities with the highest need.

Parents, teachers and children from the Sheltering Arms Malcolm X Day Care Center in Corona were at the rally, and parents said the program is at risk because the city hasn’t committed to extend their lease.

Emily Hafford, a pre-K teacher and the parent of a third grader at the Queens Community House program at PS 117, said, her son is “able to finally receive many extra-curricular activities that help him to grow as an individual… able to take dance lessons, science, technology” and other subjects in his after-school program.

Councilman Mathieu Eugene, Chair of the Youth Services Committee; stated that last year his committee successfully expanded both pre-K and after-school programs, which have proven “to enhance the academic performance of our children.”

So he’s opposed to the threatened cuts and he urges “the administration to provide the funds necessary….”

The Campaign for Children is a coalition of 150 early childhood education and after-school advocacy groups. Included are: Citizens Committee for Children, the Children’s Aid Society, United Neighborhood Houses NY, Neighborhood Family Services Coalition, Children’s Defense Fund NY, Day Care Council of New York, UJA Federation of New York, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Good Shepherd Services, and YMCA of Greater New York.


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