The Los Angeles Unified School District's Board of Education has dealt a significant blow to families and communities in Los Angeles by eliminating Youth Services in its 2012-2013 budget. For years, Youth Services has provided free, daily, after-school programming to over 40,000 students grades 2-8 until 6pm. Now, due to the Board's proposed budget cuts, all 40,000 of these students will be sent home immediately. No playgrounds or safe haven will be open to them. Some of the hardest hit families will be those in low-income neighborhoods whose parents will not be able to afford other care for their students. Instead, they will be forced to send children as young as 5 or 6 years old walking home alone on the streets of Los Angeles, possibly with only an 8 year old to guide them.
As a person that loves every child, I'm asking you to get involved and tell the LAUSD Board of Education that we will not tolerate this decision to put our children in danger. According to the 2003 report published by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex. Violent crime against and by children triples during these hours. Without a place to go, we are putting innocent children in the hands of the predator.
In addition, our most vulnerable children are being affected. After-school programs are serving a high need population, and the 2009 America After 3PM study revealed that an average of 67 percent of kids participating in afterschool programs qualify for free/reduced price lunch, 14 percent are Limited English Proficient and 11 percent have special needs/disabilities. The children who MOST need a safe place after school will be left completely unprotected.
We HAVE to stop this. We have to tell the members of the Board that they cannot do this. Together, we must protect over 40,000 students who will be walking home alone to an empty house during the most dangerous hours. Through this petition, we will tell Monica Garcia and the LAUSD Board of Education that the safety of our children is our FIRST priority, and we won't give up without a fight.