Dear Commissioner Mullgrav,
With all due respect, I still cannot understand why Out of School Time Option II programs are being eliminated based on the premise that since they are not open daily they are less important than Option I. These Option II programs are serving neighborhoods that do not have the Option I programs, therefore without them, the whole community looses all its after school services, particularly in underserved neighborhoods such as Rockaway.
As a Community Based Organization that has served the Rockaways with after school programming through New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) for twelve years, garnering awards and being showcased as an exemplary program, we the Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA) are quite prepared to take a cut in funding. Clearly New York City has fiscal problems and if a decision was made to cut a percentage of after school services evenly across the board, we would be ready. But to maintain funding to one sector of programming in some neighborhoods and totally eliminate it in others seems irresponsible and goes against the whole mission of providing social services and community building in our great city.
The real success of our kidsmART program has been the healthy cultural environment it has provided for the children in our neighborhood. Many of RAA’s instructors and most of its paid teen assistants came up through this program, they will now be unemployed.
Over the years kidsmART has nurtured a fundamental passion for life and an intuitive understanding of the arts, providing an invaluable career path for Rockaway Youth in all creative and cultural endeavors.
Why would DYCD kill such vital programming and employment in needy neighborhoods instead of spreading the burden of budget cuts fairly across the board?
Unfortunately, the only reason I can see for this apparently short sighted and undemocratic approach is a misguided effort to keep the book-keeping simpler at the expense of our children’s welfare. Surely they are our most worthy investment.