Responding to calls and petitions from his constituents about the proposed closing of after-school programs, Council Member Oliver Koppell vowed to fight to restore the funds. The Mayor’s FY 2012-2013 Executive budget cut $22.1 million for 172 after-school programs citywide and reduced subsidized slots for child care centers.
“Families in my district would be heavily impacted by these cuts which would force the closure of after-school programs at PS 8 and PS 94 in Norwood, at Riverdale Neighborhood House and the Marble Hill Community Center and reduce the number of children who can be accommodated in after-school programs at PS 95 and PS 20” Koppell said.
According to Don Bluestone, Executive Director of Mosholu- Montefiore Community Center, over 33% of the organization’s Out-of-School Time (OST) funds for after-school programs were cut, a loss of approximately $1,200,000. Riverdale Neighborhood House lost $280,000 for its after-school programs and The Children’s Arts & Science Workshops, who run the Marble Hill Center, lost $380,000 for its after-school and summer camp programs. Koppell said, “It is imperative that funds be restored to The Department of Youth and Community Development’s OST program. Without this restoration, thousands of children in my district and throughout the city, will be deprived of the positive academic and recreational activities these programs offer, putting them at risk of engaging in negative behavior during these unsupervised hours.”
Koppell referred to research that has shown that after-school programs keep kids safe, have a positive impact on self-concept and decision making and promote positive social interaction among students. Also, he referenced studies by the Department of Education that have shown crimes involving youth usually occur between the hours of 3-6 p.m. “The risk that our community will see an increase in violence, vandalism, gang activity, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as an upsurge in the number of latchkey children, is virtually inevitable with the closing of these after-school programs,” he said.
Koppell also said it was necessary to restore the cuts for early child care, which has proven to provide academic and social benefits to children stretching well beyond their early years.
“In the upcoming budget negotiations, my Council colleagues and I are determined to do all in our power to protect the child care and after-school programs on which our most vulnerable families depend. I am hopeful that these efforts will produce results and that there will be restoration of funds to keep these programs open.” Koppell concluded.