The harsh cutbacks of a failing economy are cutting into American kids’ futures like never before. This time, it’s summer services for kids that are being targeted for cuts, leaving urban youth without the staff, materials, money and facilities they need to advance their learning, find work or have a safe place to spend their time. Tight financial budgets in several states will mean a bleak summer for many inner-city youth, as summer 2011 children’s enrichment and summer school programs are shuttered or slashed to the bone due to lack of funds.
Among the standard programs and activities for urban kids that are facing cuts: pools and swimming programs, recreation centers, libraries and reading/literacy programs, short-term job options and all manner of learning and enrichment activites, nature experience camps and even summer school.
Hardest hit by cutbacks are kids in such huge metropolitan areas as New York, Washington D.C., Houston and Detroit, all cities long dependent on summer programs for serving the learning and activity needs of low- and middle-income youngsters through structured encrichment.
The non-profit youth advocacy group, D.C. Action for Children, reports on the negative impact these deep cuts may have:
“With the District slicing away at summer school, the youth jobs program and a host of summer programming and enrichment activities, children will lose an estimated $17 million worth of programming this summer…
These cuts will directly impact up to 15,000 District children and youth. But it will also impact the entire city. Parents of young children who rely on summer camp or afterschool programs that have been cut will now have to find alternatives such as paying a babysitter — if they can afford to — to be able to continue to work regular hours. These alternatives often lack the learning and enrichment component of community-based programs. Neighborhoods may see a surge in youth crime as more idle teens stay out on the street and get into trouble. Nonprofits will face the prospect of turning away children in need of summer programs, and the schools will not be able to provide classes to many students looking to bridge the summer learning gap or earn the credits needed for graduation.”
In New York, about 10,000 teens who would typically partake in the city’s summer jobs program will find themselves unemployed due to a $15 million reduction in that program’s funding. Samantha Gross of The Associated Press New York reports:
“Also on the chopping block in New York City’s proposed budget: four swimming pools, New York Public Library children’s program cuts that would result in 70 percent fewer youngsters being served, more than 6,000 public-school teaching jobs, family literacy programs and outreach for homeless youth.”
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, one of many officials who opposed to the program cuts, points out the elimination of these youth services will most prfoundly hit the city’s middle class and working poor families who have no other options. “This is certainly not going to be the year of the child in New York,” he said.
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