Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Heat Goes Up and the Funding Goes Down

Our first two posts centered on the reasons cutting funds for summer school would have such a negative impact on DC’s student population. However, DC summer school has never been funded at a level that would allow it to accommodate anything more than students who needed credit recovery. In short, summer school is meant to prop up students who are already failing or in need of remediation. There is no space for students seeking enrichment, or anything above basic credit recovery.

The Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (often simply referred to as the “Trust”) in contrast, funds year-round after school activities, as well as, summer enrichment activities for thousands of DC’s children and youth every year. In FY’10 the “Trust” had an operating budget of 10.6 million that they used to serve approximately 3,300 that summer. However, after last fall’s emergency budget gap closing the “Trust” was left with a total budget of just 4.6 million for FY’11.

The result? For this summer the “Trust” received 6 million dollars worth of requests for funding, but only has 1 million to grant out.

Programs like Beacon House, Asian American LEAD and Kid Power, all long time Trust grantees, will be forced to cut back. Beacon House will serve 30 fewer children ages 5-13 in their main camp and will be unable to employ older youth as junior counselors. In previous years the junior counselor program gave up to 50 older youth viable employment opportunities. Kid Power will have to reduce its elementary summer camp slots from 100 to 35 and Asian American LEAD will be unable to provide services to one of its age brackets. This summer applicants for Trust funds were only allowed to apply for grants in one age range. This means programs that aim to serve children and youth across the age spectrum and provide continuous services as children and youth grow up cannot do so.

Now that FY'12 Budget Hearings have wrapped up, we can only wait and see if the "Trust" will be funded at a level that allows for higher levels of programming next year. This summer, however, will be a tough one. The examples we gave are just a few of the MANY programs that have had to cut back as a result of heavy reductions to the Trust's operating budget. There are programs out there that,thought they have received funds for summer programming in years past will not receive any this year and may not be able to offer services at all.

The lack of summer school opportunities coupled with large budget cuts to the "Trust" force a situation on DC's children and youth that leaves many of them without positive opportunities for summer learning and enrichment. Children and youth from economically disadvantaged families are disproportionately affected by this occurrence because without programs like those funded by the "Trust", parents and guardians will likely not be able to afford to send their children to full-cost camps or enrichment opportunities. The summer learning loss that occurs because of this will be devastating to the long term academic progress and success of these young people.

While drastically changing the government's agenda about funding youth programs for this summer is probably not a tenable goal, there is still time for parents and youth to tell members of the DC Council that summer programming is critically important. DCAYA will be doing a Walk-Around to various Council Member's offices on Monday May 23, 2011 at 3:30pm in the John A. Wilson Building to speak with Council Members and their staff about these issues. If you are interested in participating please contact DCAYA Policy Analyst Maggie Riden by either phone or email. Her contact information is below.

This is one of the last opportunities advocates and concerned community members will have to speak with decision makers before they vote on the budget late next week. Make sure your voice is heard.

Maggie Riden

email: maggie(at)dc-aya.org phone: 202.587.0616 (ext. 36)

For more information on Trust programs that are operating for Summer 2011 click here.

For more information on other summer programs offered by DPR, MPD or other government agencies click here.

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