How Philly Nonprofits Are Planning for Impending Cuts in Children ProgramsBy Peak Johnson |
The beginning of next year may be a dismal start for some in the nonprofit community as Congress has been unable to make a long-term deal on spending taxes.
As a result, children programs are facing massive cuts in head start services; youth job training, special education, and a host of others.
“We’re always worried about cuts,” David Florig, Executive Director of West Philadelphia Alliance for Children said. “The trend is relatively to close school libraries.”
WePAC’s mission is to promote childhood literacy by engaging volunteers in Philadelphia public schools by re-opening and staffing libraries, academic mentoring, and after-school enrichment.
Primarily WePAC focuses on schools within the West and Southwest Philadelphia area that have a real need.
“We’re lucky in a sense that we are not funded by the city or the state,” Florig said. “Philadelphia schools are obviously the victims of the city, states, and school budget.”
Florig adds how there has been a steady decline over the years for the arts in the schools, especially school libraries.
According to the Pennsylvania Council of Churches Ministry of Public Advocacy, 1.5 million low-income students in elementary and secondary schools would be harmed by program cuts, and more than 16,000 teachers and other staff would lose their jobs
“I think that’s unfortunate,” Teresa McKnight, program manager at Project H.O.M.E.’s Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs. “If we’re all about bettering ourselves and our children, this is doing them an injustice.”
The Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs is a 38,000 square-foot, four-floor facility that is technologically equiped with the most progressive hardware and software systems for education and learning, making it the largest and most advanced facility of its kind serving low-income populations in Philadelphia.
McKnight added that the cuts would no doubt affect the learning center, but that they would continue working as usual and possibly rely a little more on donations and other sources.
“Unfortunately, we have that luxury while other places do not,” McKnight said. “Other places might not be able to serve the capacity that they are used to because of the cuts and unfortunately would then shut down.”
And earlier this year, the House passed a budget that would do even more harm including ending the Social Services Block Grant that provides states with $1.7 billion annually to address child abuse and neglect, along with many other things.
“There are a lot of creative and innovative people in Philly,” Elaine Leigh, Director of High School Support Services at Steppingstone Scholars, Inc said. “So they will become more creative in what they might not be able to do.”
Steppingstone Scholars is dedicated to helping educationally underserved students in the Greater Philadelphia area achieve academic success.
Leigh added that by her working in education she is always worried about cuts.
“I don’t have a lot of faith in Congress these days,” Floriq said. “Entire communities have got to get outraged enough for students who are not getting enough.”
Photo via West Philadelphia Alliance for Childrenblog comments powered by Disqus