Monday, February 27, 2012

Do we really value our children 44% less now than in 2009?

The answer seems to be "Yes" if budget allocations are the measure.   This according to a budget analysis of out-of-school time (OST) services commissioned by the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation.   (Full disclosure: I wrote the report.)

The report, Do we really value our children 44% less now than in 2009? (PDF, 49 pp) (also available on the Trust website) has two main findings.   The first is that approved gross funding for OST has declined 44% between FYs 2009 and 2012.   The second is that there is no citywide, planned system for out-of-school time services.

WaPo's Mike DeBonis first look at the report, D.C. youth funding, beset by scandal, has dwindled, focused on the Trust's role in OST.   This is certainly understandable but incredibly unfortunate.   Since FY 2009, approved funding for the Trust has only accounted for a maximum of 18% of OST funding.   That's right—18%.   DC Public Schools and the Department of Employment Services have comprised more than half of the OST approved budgets in the years covered by the report.   And the DC National Guard's portion of total OST funding increased in those four years.

What's more important, I think, is the lost potential for young people.   One of the most compelling graphics in the report shows what could have been.   Had OST funding kept pace with the 6.8% growth in the overall DC budget, funding for OST in FY 2012 would have been north of $105 million.   Instead, it is $56 million.   This is concerning since 115,400 children and youth between the ages of 5 and 21 live in DC and spend more time out of school than in.   It's even more concerning since young people themselves grasp the value of productive programming:

If they gave different programs to fit the criteria to why you were locked up, services that help you specifically, maybe even invest in psychologists.

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