Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Vainieri Huttle Calls on Legislature to Work Together to Address Christie Cuts to NJ After 3
Bergen Assemblywoman Concerned About Impact Funding Loss Will Have on Englewood
(Trenton) - After a lengthy Assembly panel hearing on Tuesday examining the impact of Governor Christie's budget vetoes on children, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) underscored the need to address the Governor's $3 million cut in funding for the NJ After 3 program, a decision that is poised to impact children and parents in Englewood.
"The NJ After 3 program has had demonstrable success in achieving positive outcomes for students," said Vainieri Huttle. "The Governor's veto means the Englewood program, alone, is losing $100,000 to help serve 160 kids ages 4 to 9. For many parents, this may mean the difference in whether they can afford to send their child to a productive environment after school each day."
The funding equates to roughly $600 per student for the 10 months of after school care provided each year. Currently, parents are already paying between $65-110 per month for this care, depending on their income.
"Once the effect of the Governor's cut is felt, parents may have to pay double for this program, roughly anywhere between $125-200 per month," added Vainieri Huttle. "According to Bergen Family Services, which runs the program, most parents may not be able to cobble that kind of money together and will likely end up pulling their kids out of the program. Englewood is considered an at-risk district and it does have a notable gang presence. For many children, the NJ After 3 Program may literally help decide their very future."
Vainieri Huttle noted that an independent 3-year evaluation by Public Study Associates demonstrated that the program is a cost-effective public/private partnership that improves students' academic performance. The study showed that students who participated in the program for at least two years demonstrated statistically significant gains in language arts skills and those who were highly active in the program demonstrated significantly higher scores in study skills than those that were less active.
"This type of success cannot be ignored. It behooves all of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, to work together to ensure that the program does not have to absorb a substantial cut for the second year in a row," concluded Vainieri Huttle.
Vainieri Huttle noted that in 2011, the Governor proposed the elimination of the entire $10 million for NJ After 3. In the final budget that was passed, the Legislature was about to restore $3 million to the program. However, the substantial cut in funding impacted thousands of New Jersey children and their families who are struggling in the current economy.
The Governor, once again this year, proposed elimination of the entire appropriation for this program. Democrats restored the funding in the budget they passed in late June, only to have it excised through the Governor's line-item veto.