A new bill introduced in the city council Tuesday would make summer camp free to all city students.
The bill, co-sponsored by Council Members Debi Rose (D - Staten Island) and Ben Kallos (D - Manhattan) would require the city’s Youth and Community Development Department to figure out how many programs they need by fall 2020. Then they have a year to make sure there is adequate space.
It should be ready to go for Summer 2022.
“Summer programs are invaluable experiences that build self-esteem, social skills, leadership skills and friendships in a safe, constructive environment,” said Rose. “It is time we build on our successes with early childhood education in the city and give all students seeking a spot in a summer program the opportunity to participate.”
The mandatory summer program law would also eliminate the annual squabble over $20 million in city money for middle school camps that, for the past five years, has been excluded from Mayor de Blasio’s preliminary budget, and only restored in final budget negotiations in June. By that point, it’s often too late for programs to effectively set up programs slated to start just weeks later.
The funding provides summer camp slots for about 34,000 middle-schoolers, officials said.
“This Universal Summer Youth Programs legislation will finally put an end to the budget dance and put our city on a path to guarantee every child a place to enjoy their summer,” said Kallos.
The push to expand summer programs comes on the heels of a City Council hearing that explored the possibility of universal after school programs
Lawmakers noted that funding for after school and summer programs has jumped under Mayor de Blasio, but said the city is still far from offering a spot to any student who requests one.