Tag Archives: after school programs

De Blasio details after-school program expansion plan

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Updated 1:55 p.m.

Mayor Bill de Blasio released an interagency report Monday detailing plans to expand after-school programs to more public middle school students in the city.

The implementation would place programs in all schools with middle school students that do not currently have after-school services as well as non-public school sites, such as community centers and libraries, according to the report.

The expansion, like de Blasio’s plan for universal pre-kindergarten, will require an increase on local income tax for the city’s highest earners.

“This is a critical investment that will transform our schools—but it is also a powerful policy to keep kids out of trouble and fight the influences that can take them off the right path. We need the power to make this investment now,” the mayor said.

De Blasio said the city has “the capacity to ramp up immediately.” But what is still needed, however, is the funding, which would require approval from Albany for the tax increase.

The $190 million proposal will provide an additional 62,791 middle school students with the opportunity to attend free after-school programs, starting in September 2014.

Currently, the Department of Education and Department of Youth and Community Development provide after-school programs that serve approximately 56,369 students in 239 schools each year. The expansion will increase the number of schools with programs to 512.

Funding would also go toward boosting existing programs by increasing their hours of operation.



Cuts to after-school programs, day care still loom

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy PAL

Thousands of Queens parents will be without a “plan b” if child care is not bankrolled in the city’s final budget, advocates said.
Funding for child care was not restored in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s executive budget after a $70 million cut in his preliminary spending plan, pushing dozens of Queens programs to the brink.

“This is how [parents] get to work, this is how they have somewhere safe to leave their kids,” said Gregory Brender, policy advisor for United Neighborhood Houses. “They don’t have a plan b.”

More than 30 Out-of-School-Time (OST) programs throughout the borough may have to close their doors, affecting thousands of children, according to advocates. With the cuts will also come job losses.

“For children, we see again and again the benefits after-school education has on their development,” Brender said. “Now, the city is saying only some kids are deserving of these services.”

More than 5,000 OST slots in Queens would be eliminated if the budget passes in June, according to the Department of Youth and Child Development (DYCD).

“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 a DYCD spokesperson, who added the remaining programs will be focused in high need areas.
Bloomberg agreed that after-school programs are vital, but said some cuts are necessary.

“I happen to agree with the protestors that [after-school programs are] very important,” the mayor said recently. “Every year we go through the same thing. There are proposals and there is input and there is discussion and argument and we come up with a pretty good budget.”
Police Athletic League (PAL) and Beacon programs also face cutbacks.

PAL is looking for ways to avoid closing any centers, but two centers in Queens will be forced to re-evaluate services.

The Edward Byrne Center in Jamaica and P.S. 214 in Flushing — which each serve more than 100 children — would focus on recreation, sports and arts based programs rather than traditional after school and educational components, PAL Executive Director Alana Sweeney said.

Margaret Bena, whose 6-year-old daughter attends PAL P.S. 214 while she works and attends school, complained that there already aren’t many programs that offer the numerous benefits PAL does, and for free.

“It’s hard to have play dates in the neighborhood,” Bena said, “But in the PAL program, she has so many friends now and her social integration has [grown by] leaps and bounds.”

Two Beacons are set to be shut down, Queens Community House at J.H.S. 190 and Samuel Field Y at M.S. 158.
— Additional reporting by
Liam La Guerre & Tonia N. Cimino

Seven Beacons set for closure

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Samuel Field Y at M.S. 158

Public protest proved to be in vain, as the Department of Youth and Community Development announced that seven Beacon city-wide programs will close their doors in July.

Founded in 1991, the 80 Beacon programs existing throughout New York City as a subset of Queens Community House are “youth-development centers” providing year-round, complementary services, specializing in young people ages six to 21 and focusing on leadership and skills growth.

Beacons operate after school, on weekends, school holidays, and throughout the summer, representing a program model that has been adopted in over 10 cities across the country. Each Beacon program serves roughly 800 youth and adults.

Queens Community House is a network of social service providers assisting residents with benefits such as tutoring and athletics, as well as classes for General Education Diploma (GED) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

The Beacons set to be shut down are Phipps Community Development at I.S. 192 in the Bronx; Heart Share Human Services at I.S. 259 in Brooklyn; Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center at P.S. 198 in Manhattan; Hudson Guild at M.S. 414 in Manhattan; Queens Community House at J.H.S. 190 in Queens; Samuel Field Y at M.S. 158 in Queens; and Tottenville High School Jewish Community Center of Staten Island in Staten Island.

When a list of 16 potentially closing settlement houses was compiled earlier in 2012, Patrick Pinchinat, Director of Queens Community House Beacon Program at J.H.S. 190, said the center is at-risk because it resides in “low-needs zone,” – an area with a relatively low poverty rate and average socio-economic standing.

Dr. Steven Goodman, Executive VP and Chief Executive Officer of the Samuel Field Y M.S. 158 Beacon Program, was surprised that this decision was made so early in the budgeting process.

In response to the surrounding area being deemed a “low-needs zone,” Goodman claimed that when the program was established in Little Neck in the early 1990s, it desperately needed its services.

“The bottom line is that we were successful in turning the community around and sustaining it,” said Goodman. “Youth crime has declined tremendously. Academic improvement has inclined. Parents faced with hard economic times have been able to go back to work without being concerned with child care. It has encouraged parents to seek employment and better paying jobs. Now two parents can work instead of one.”

According to a representative from the mayor’s office, the closures are attributable to “painful funding decisions.”

“We are committed to providing the quality programming on which so many rely, and will work within our means to continue to provide them,” said the representative.

The elimination of these programs is expected to save the city approximately $2.1 million in the 2013 Fiscal Year.

According to Goodman, before the final budget is decided on, representatives from the closing Beacons will have a chance to express how much this will affect their communities.

“We will stand together and stand firm to get our message out,” said Goodman. “We hope that all seven Beacons can make something happen. Optimism isn’t enough. It’s going to take a lot of hard work.”