Hundreds of parents are scrambling after finding out that the New Haven Boys & Girls Club will be closing its after-school program on Friday, October 25, 2019.
In a letter sent home to parents, the non-profit states that the reasons for the shut are due to “an on-going lack of financial resources and a very challenging fundraising environment have resulted in the ability for us to continue to offer the Club programs and services your children deserve.”
The decision coming just three days before the last day. The letter goes on to say that “Over the next 90 days, our board and Club leaders will evaluate and seek ways for us to continue our service in the community and provide your children with a positive place to learn and grown after school each day.”
The club is known to serve as a safe haven for more than 4 million children and teens, providing them with after-school activities like recreational time and leadership enrichment programs.
The non-profit got its start in Hartford by three woman hoping to provide a positive alternative for young boys instead of roaming the streets.”
The Boys and Girls Club of New Haven holds a special place in Lee Jones’ heart. The father of two says he spent half of his childhood inside the center.
“We had basketball, games, movies and kids’ stuff like that,” said Jones. “It was a great opportunity to interact with your people in your neighborhood in a positive way as opposed to being in the streets.”
Jones says stripping the Boys and Girls Club away would be detrimental for students and parents.
“It’s kind of sad that these things are getting taken away,” said Jones. “I wouldn’t mind them taking the center away if they had other programs in place for the kids to help parents and the neighborhoods.”
According to New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, the Boys and Girls Club had fiscal issues that lingered on which led to the temporary shutdown.
“They did tell me that they had some monetary problems that were pretty significant and they had hoped that the board could help solve those but they were not able to,” Harp said. “They were very concerned about letting people know about their situation but I really wished that they had reached out for help much sooner.
As a mother of three, Harp said she feels for the families which is why she’s working to find a solution for those involved.
“We’re going to attempt to help them and hopefully, we can work out something,” Harp said. “We’ve got to certainly talk to our board of alders, but I’m hoping that we can come up with a way with our community partners as a way to stave off this closing.”
One parent told NBC Connecticut that the yearly cost for their services is $125. She also said that she is not sure if she or other parents will be receiving their money.
The letter sent to parents also states: “Please know that the safety and well-being of the youth we serve remains our number one priority and we want to assure you that our commitment is unwavering. Again, we deeply regret having to make this incredibly tough decision and realize the burden it places on you as parents, and on your children. Should you need assistance in identifying alternative care for your child, we are more than happy to help you identify possible resources. We are grateful for your understanding and support and thankful for the opportunity to have served our community for nearly 150 years.”
The Boys and Girls Club falls in the 3D Ward who is represented by Alderman Ron C. Hurt. He issued this statement to NBC Connecticut:
“I like many of my neighbors was surprised to hear that the Boys & Girls Club is closing its doors. The center offers a safe, secure youth services which are vital to the young people in my neighborhood and our city.”