Tag Archives: Department of Youth and Community Development

Bayside Beacon program saved


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A beloved Bayside Beacon program has survived yet another year of budget cuts.

The City Council fully restored next year’s funding to the after-school enrichment program at M.S. 158 Marie Curie.

It was slated for closure, just as it was last year when the Department of Youth and Community Development tried to shut down seven Beacons across the city.

“Our after-school programs are vital community resources,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, “and now Bayside’s children will be able to continue to utilize these valuable services.”

Martenia Miller, site director of the school’s Beacon program, called it a “support system” that has worked for 20 years.

She added it is the only such program within Community Board 11.

More than 100 students take part in the enrichment program daily.

“These cuts would have been detrimental to the safety and well-being of the children in my district,” said Assemblymember Ed Braunstein.

Beacon operates after school, on weekends, school holidays and throughout the summer. It provides help on homework along with leadership and skill growth for both youths and adults.

“We fought to ensure that our community was not short-changed,” said Assemblymember Nily Rozic. “Together we will work to continue these invaluable services that every family deserves and make sure that our students’ education is always a priority.”

The Council maintained funding for the city’s 66 Beacon programs.

 

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Bloomberg budget takes aim at after-school programs, teachers’ jobs


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Child Center of NY

When millions in after-school program funding was cut in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget last year, parents held rallies, wrote letters and made phone calls until the City Council restored $150 million, saving these programs for thousands of children.

The support greatly touched Deep Ghosh, director of youth development for The Child Center of NY, which provides 15 after-school programs in Queens — and he hopes it will move him once again.

The after-school program money that was restored last year will run out in late June, and, despite protests, the mayor’s Fiscal Year 2014 preliminary budget still axed 700,000 hours, or around $135 million, from these programs.

“Just like last year, 47,000 children are set to lose access to after-school and early education programs – programs proven to help children succeed while parents work to support their families,” said Michelle Yanche, assistant executive director for government and external relations at Good Shepherd Services. “The same parents and providers will be forced to fight for the same funding that they were just given a few months ago. How can this be happening, after all we’ve heard from our city leaders about making children a priority?”

“I think people underestimate the value that [after-school programs] bring to developing young people into well-rounded individuals,” said Ghosh.

The Child Center of NY depends on approximately 75 to 80 percent of its funding from the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), said Ghosh.

With these cuts, around 1,000 of their children would not have programming that keeps them safe and helps support working parents, he said.

During last year’s proposed cuts, some parents told Ghosh that they would need to quit their jobs if there were no afterschool programs for their children.

Though the mayor’s budget included $6.5 billion in savings, it also made other cuts affecting the city’s students, after millions in funding and grants were lost when teacher evaluation talks failed last week.

According to the mayor, these cuts could result in the loss of 700 teachers through attrition this year, $67 million less for school supplies and the reduction of extracurricular funds.

For a full summary of the mayor’s financial plan, visit www.nyc.gov/html/omb.

 

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Children rally to save Pomonok after-school program from shutting down


| sarahyu@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Sarah Yu

Children, parents and politicians rallied recently against the closing of after-school programs at the Pomonok Center at the Queens Community House.

The center offers a free after-school program for children from grades kindergarten to sixth that includes homework help, arts and crafts, fitness, character development and team-building games.

“I worry that without such a program in Pomonok, our youth will begin to fall behind academically and socially, which is something we as a community simply cannot afford,” said Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz.

The Pomonok Center is funded by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development’s Out-of-School Time Program, which had its funding cut in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s executive budget.

“I call on the city to stop balancing the budget on the backs of our children and young families,” Simanowitz said.

According to Sheena Sukhraj, the youth services director for the Pomonok Center, they are currently collecting petitions and sending it out to the mayor and local officials.

“I think it’s a shame because the majority of our children come from Pomonok Houses which is a low- income housing development, so we know that the parents can’t afford after-school programming,” she said.

They only have six more weeks to fight to keep the after school programs running at the Pomonok Center.

“I’m very devastated because it is right now the only option that I have for child care for my son,” Kimberlee Farrell, a parent and educator said.

Farrell added that she’s always looking for options so that she is ready to face what might happen if their protests aren’t heard.

“I’m touched,” she said. “It takes major issues to bring it out in these communities, but you see from these children, six and seven years old, up to the adults — 50s, 60s 70-year old grandparents — all rallying together for what is right.”

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.”

 

Beacon Program closure protest continues


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Community outcry at the possible closure of several Queens Community House Beacon Program centers is growing louder as more neighborhoods, faced with potentially losing their facilities, are speaking out.

“The state of the community’s outrage is an understatement,” said Marva Dudley, president of the advisory board at Parsons Beacon, a center facing possible closure. “It serves so many people and is essential to working parents. The community is devastated.”

According to a representative from the office of Councilmember James F. Gennaro, The New York City Youth Alliance, a group of non-profits, compiled a list of 16 Beacon Programs potentially facing closure. Eight of these programs are located in Queens.

“We know these proposed cuts often occur as the city finalizes its budget, but Beacons are a vital part of this community and must be preserved,” said Gennaro. “If we stand up now, we send a message that we are paying attention, and we take the first step to ensuring the funding continues. And that means all these great kids keep getting the tutoring and supervision they need to succeed.”

Queens Community House is a network of social service providers, assisting nearly 30,000 people borough-wide 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 Beacon Program, a subset of Queens Community House, is a “youth-development center,” providing year-round, complementary services, specializing in young people ages six to 21 and focusing on leadership and skill growth.

On Tuesday, February 13, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi sent a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, expressing his opposition the potential termination of a Beacon Program located at J.H.S 190.

According to a representative from the mayor’s office, the possible closure of services such as the Beacon Program is 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, who alleged that the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) will eliminate seven Beacon programs in the interest of saving approximately $2.1 million in the 2013 Fiscal Year.

DYCD has undergone measures to investigate the effectiveness of at-risk centers, analyzing population and socioeconomic data. This process has not yet been completed.