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Orange County

State Budget Cuts Hit After-School Programs

Loss of $4.2 million forces search for funds. Programs occupy kids while parents work.

May 08, 2003|Jeff Gottlieb | Times Staff Writer

State budget woes rippling through Orange County are causing cutbacks in after-school programs, a situation made worse by infighting at the YWCA.

Thirty-two elementary and middle schools in 12 districts serving 3,000 children will not receive nearly $4.2 million that was to be the final annual installment from the state CalWorks program, which is money saved on welfare reforms.

Federal money earmarked to expand after-school programs will make up some of the shortfall, but it was unclear how much, said Ellin Chariton, director of school and community services for the Orange County Department of Education.

"It is a loss, it definitely is," Chariton said.

"[Federal funds] are not going to fill the gap."

The $4.2 million was supposed to be the final payment of seed money to get after-school programs running, after which districts were to look for funding elsewhere -- from other government agencies, foundations and private donors.

Chariton said the state funds have significantly expanded after-school programs.

They provided enrichment activities for children in a safe environment so parents could work or look for jobs, Chariton said.

Supervised after-school programs are critical, she said, and they help keep children busy at a time when they are most likely to get into trouble.

Many are run in conjunction with groups like the YMCA of Orange County.

The YMCA said Wednesday it is seeking private and corporate money to make up the $650,000 in state funds it receives to run programs for local schools.

Adding to the cutbacks, the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Ana said that on Friday it would end the after-school program it has been running since December at the YWCA of Orange County in Orange.

The Boys and Girls Club has been charging $1 a month per family. The YWCA said it will run its own program at a cost of $25 a week.

While the club has been running the program, the Y has provided the space and shuttled pupils to the center from schools.

John Brewster, president and CEO of the club, said about 140 children are registered with the program and that about 50 show up each day.

Rival factions have been fighting for control of the Y since last year, when it was almost shut down because of financial difficulties.

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