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Youth Advocates Push to Restore After-School Aid

Monday, May 09, 2011

Children's advocates are calling on the City Council to restore $23 million the mayor proposed cutting from after school programs. They claim a cut that large means 16,000 elementary and middle school students will lose access to homework help, arts and sports classes.

Richard Buery, president and CEO of the Children's Aid Society, said the city has already lost more than 14,000 after-school slots since 2009 — and students aren't the only ones who suffer.

"It's also an economic loss to the city," he said, "because the working parents depend on reliable, safe places to send your kids after school so they can go to work."

Buery's organization provides services from about 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at schools in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. He said  many students are already turned away because there's more demand than supply.

The Department of Youth and Community Development said it's trying to maintain quality programs in spite of less state funding and an economic downturn.

"As the budget process moves forward, we will continue to work with our government partners on creative solutions that will assist working parents and provide engaging and educational activities for children," said spokesman Andrew Doba.

The city also said the proposed cuts aren't as severe as advocates claim because they're counting funds the Council restored last year on a one-shot basis.

A total of 57,000 children are served by the Out of School Time program. The council has scheduled a hearing on the proposed cuts for May 19.

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