Sunday, February 22, 2009

Government funded, non-profit After School Programs

If you’d like to develop an after school program in your community, there’s apparently a lot of money. Here’s the link for government grants. You can be the director and hire your out-of-work or underemployed friends and relatives to help you. A back ground in teaching or social work might be nice, but I don't see that anywhere as a requirement. If you don't like children, you might try a different non-profit area, like finding mold, or lead, or hazardous waste.

No one has ever been able to determine what exactly these after school programs do in the long run, but in the short run they keep children supervised and off the streets, and provide adult mentors. Maybe they reduce crime; maybe they just put good kids in the path of bad kids they normally wouldn't be spending time with.

In the 1950s, my after school program was called "working at Zickuhrs," the local pharmacy, and I also had one called "working at the public library." After school club activities were known in the old days as hanging out with my girls friends for parties, overnights and picnics. When I was in elementary school I think it was called Girl Scouts, 4-H, and church choir. I'm sure the adults were role models, although we probably didn't think of them that way, and I'm sure they weren't paid. Our parents, not the government, provided the snacks, and I actually earned college money with all that adult advice and supervision from the Mayor and his wife Alice.

This definitely isn’t new to Obamadmin; the government has been using non-profits to spread the wealth for years. Bush was a heavy user of religious organizations for this. In exchange for taking government money, they were not to get preachy, which is what the church is there for. This will probably get much more restrictive under Obama--that's one promise he'll probably keep.

Just glancing through the list; in FY 2006-2008 there was about $7 billion available in just one after school snack program called CACFP; if you can throw in a little supervisory training for job skills you can dip in a pool of about $36 million through CNCS; if you’d like to educate the children on environmental issues there are numerous grants through EPA, including $25,000 from an $8 million pocket (2006-2008 years). I’ve even seen grants for getting people into mortgages in this after school funding list, although I’m not sure how that benefits the children--putting their single mom into mortgage debt instead of subsidized rental housing.

One of the "crown jewels" of after school programs is located in Chicago, called "After School Matters," and it was started by Mayor Daley's wife about 20 years ago. That should be long enough to see if it really does matter, but the fly in the ointment in determining this is that the children in the program are hand picked, and they can't participate unless they have a good attendance record in public school. Reading through a 2008 report, it appears to me it is in direct competition with several other programs in Chicago which don't get the fat cats' contributions. They all use government money, of course. But how they name it is a bit clever. For instance ASM says in a report by Sengupta
    "Researchers studying After School Matters at Chapin Hall have asserted that its funding stream depends on Maggie Daley’s leadership. According to After School Matters’ audited reports from FY 2005-2006, of the $22 million in revenue received, 30% came from in-kind contributions from Chicago’s public partners, such as school and park space, while 51% came from government contributions."
Call me crazy but 51% from government "contributions" and 30% from the school and park funding is all tax money, isn't it? And $22 million a year for an afterschool arts program is nothing to sneeze at. The children are paid to attend this, so the demand is high. Then that leaves three other programs, also government funded, to pick up the slack: Department of Children and Youth Services includes the Kid’s Start and recreational centers after school programs; PARK kids run by The Chicago Park District; and Community Schools Initiative run by Chicago Public Schools. Since the Park district and the schools also contribute to ASM, it would seem to me the lesser advantaged kids are contributing to the more advantaged.

This is definitely math Chicago style. Now we see where Obama gets it.


Flight said...

I'm the first to admit that our government has trouble deciding how funds should be used and therefor should cut back on how much they take from us so we could decide how to use our money . After school programs however help our kids find direction ( direction that they should be getting at home I admit ) and gives them a place off the streets . Not every child comes from a good and loving home , and these are the ones that benefit most from programs such as these . Not every moment of a child's life should be about learning or working , we need to also give them time to be just kids . After school programs do just that , they are a place away from the drug dealers and government standers , a place where free expression lives . Since there are a shortage of volunteers , we must find ways to fund these programs . I myself would rather see my money going into after school then going to Iraq .

Norma said...

As churches depend more and more on government grants to participate they have trade offs. The biggest is we can't tell them about Jesus. So we are just one more government employee, not on the books.

Flight said...

You are correct it is a big trade off . Government money should not be used to promote Buddha , Mohamed , Witch craft , or Jesus . Our forefathers made that very clear .
If the church desires to use government money it should abide by the rules to that money . Again if the government took less tax money in the people would be able to use it how they see fit ( to promote Jesus if you will ). But since that will never happen without major changes we have to have laws to prevent this money from being used to promote Witchcraft. The Wiccans would want to stop Christianity from spreading , and they are Americans too.

I guess what I'm saying is if you believe in something , fund it yourself or deal with the strings that come with it .

Norma said...

We agree. If you can't abide by the terms, don't offer the program, like after school snacks or summer lunches on USDA money. About 99% of those programs are run by churches.

Bhima shankar said...

This is really a nice article. thanks for sharing it. keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Well said Norma