Capital: Additional funding sought for afterschool programs

Eliza Shapiro, Capital New York, 4.23.2015

A coalition of education advocates and service providers is calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council to include an additional $5.9 million for afterschool programs in his executive budget, claiming 17 of the programs in high-needs neighborhoods will be forced to close this summer without the extra money.

The 150-member coalition, the Campaign for Children, says the 17 programs will affect 1,882 elementary school children.

The programs’ contracts are expiring and will have to be funded by June 30in order to continue.

De Blasio has dramatically expanded the city’s afterschool options for middle schoolers, arguing that middle school students in particular benefit from academic and social supports after the school day and during the summer.

There are 78,000 afterschool seats available for middle school students.

De Blasio pledged $190 million in his preliminary budget for fiscal year 2016 to create afterschool seats for 100,000 middle schoolers.

But the mayor’s commitment does not extend to all programs across all grades, and advocates say the 17 threatened programs serve some of the city’s highest-need populations.

Four of the programs are located in the Bronx, six in Brooklyn (including programs in East New York and Crown Heights), two in Manhattan (both in Harlem) four in Queens and one on Staten Island.

The Campaign for Children will hold a rally at Brooklyn Borough HallThursday afternoon calling on de Blasio to fund the programs. Brooklyn Borough President and Council member Mathieu Eugene, along with families and children who use the afterschool programs, are scheduled to attend.

The Campaign for Children is represented by BerlinRosen, the consulting firm that helped get de Blasio elected mayor.

“The city has taken significant steps toward improving outcomes for children in the last year, and it is crucial that we continue this progress,” Jennifer March, the executive director of the Citizens’ Committee for Children, a member of the Campaign for Children, said in a statement. “That’s why we’re urging the mayor and the City Council to keep these 17 afterschool programs from closing in communities that need them most, and to take immediate action to stabilize and strengthen the early childhood education and afterschool systems.”

The Citizens’ Committee has launched a letter-writing campaign to Council members asking them to advocate for the additional funding in the executive budget.

Several maps created by the Citizens’ Committee aim to show that the afterschool programs in question are concentrated in some of the city’s highest-need areas.

“The de Blasio administration has nearly doubled the number of afterschool seats throughout the City, and recognizes the valuable service they provide to working families,” Ishanee Parikh, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said in a statement. “These programs are priorities in our budget process.”


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