Washington DC (May 16, 2023)—When the DC Council held its first vote on the FY24 budget today, it fell short of centering the health and safety of youth and young adults. However, youth advocates will continue their advocacy and ask the DC Council to fix its budget shortcomings ahead of the second vote on May 30.
The preservation of $5 million for the “My Afterschool DC” pilot program to increase access to out-of-school-time (OST) programming is a win for programs, but fails to meet the OST Coalition’s budget request for at least $10 million. Currently, programs in the District only serve less than half of public school students. The District can and must do more to provide safe spaces for our young people.
“If the District’s leaders truly value having safe, enriching spaces for young people to go after school and in the summer, I hope they will consider increasing their investment to meet our budget ask. The recent needs assessment report commissioned by the Deputy Mayor of Education’s office shows just how deep the needs truly are,” said Ryllie Danylko, policy analyst for DC Action and co-chair of the DC Out-of-School-Time Coalition.
The DC Council will hold a public oversight hearing about OST on June 7, and the DC OST Coalition looks forward to this important opportunity to discuss how we can achieve equitable OST access in the District with program providers, parents, youth, and government officials.
We appreciate the DC Council finding $667,000 in one-time funding to restore an effective workforce program for transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming young people, and funding for 80 new permanent supportive housing beds for families experiencing homelessness. However, it falls far short of current needs considering the stark rise in homelessness this past year. We are also disappointed that the DC Council did not find $1.7 million for a traveling mental health unit for youth experiencing homelessness or the $1.1 million requested to fund a targeted workforce program for youth experiencing homelessness. Both of these priorities were identified by youth themselves.
“Even amid rising youth homelessness, their needs continue to be ignored year after year despite their pleas for targeted interventions and support to improve their outcomes,” said Rachel White, senior policy analyst for DC Action and chair of the Youth Economic Justice and Housing Coalition.
While District leaders decry the increase in youth involved in crime and express concern about young people’s mental health and employment prospects, the funding allocated for programs that support youth is paltry, and does not reflect a genuine commitment to the well-being and future of our young people. Before the second vote on May 30, we urge the DC Council to reconsider its priorities and focus on funding critical programs that support youth and young adults.