Assemblyman Philip Ramos (D-Central Islip) sent a letter to the governor today calling for the immediate release of funding for the state’s Advantage After School Program, which provides more than 17,000 children with a safe, educational place to go every day after school.
"Programs in Suffolk County and across New York are at immediate risk of closing their doors if funding already approved in the state budget is not released by October 1," Ramos said. "I urge the governor to address this critically important issue today and renew the state’s contracts with after-school programs."
One Suffolk County program that would suffer without the state funding is Youth Enrichment Services, Inc., which provides after-school programs in Bay Shore, Brentwood, Central Islip and West Islip. YES expects to cut its program in half.
"On Tuesday, we will have 630 children in our program. On Wednesday, we will have to eliminate 315 children," said YES Executive Director Mary Ann Pfeiffer. "How do we decide who to eliminate? How do we explain this to the hundreds of families from Bay Shore, Brentwood, Central Islip and Islandia that will be impacted. At a time when our children need to have positive activities after school, they are cutting funding to programs that provide our kids with an alternative to the streets."
"After-school programs provide children with extended learning opportunities and help keep our children safe," Ramos said. "Keeping our children active and out of trouble after school is a small investment that pays huge dividends."
From helping with homework and mentoring, to providing fun activities and reducing juvenile delinquency, after-school programs have proven to be a huge success. Support for investment in after-school programs is nearly universal among educators and law enforcement officials.
In fact, Ramos pointed out that communities across this state and the nation will come together on October 9 to recognize the importance of after-school programs during the 4th annual "Lights On Afterschool" celebration. "If the governor fails to deliver the necessary funding, I’m afraid it will be ‘Lights Off’ for many after-school programs in New York," Ramos said.
Ramos said he was struck by the irony that while Gov. Pataki refuses to release after-school program funds, he is actively supporting Arnold Schwarzenegger, who chairs the national "Lights On Afterschool" event and has proclaimed that every child should have "access to an effective and comprehensive after-school program."