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03/24/2021 08:00 AM

Communication and Culture

I’d like elected officials to consider collaboration and funding that offer parents and family members opportunities in summer camp and learning programming. At the Board of Finance budget workshops, Michelle Benivegna described the outsourcing of the summer camp to the Soundview YMCA organization for a camp at the former Hayes school.

As the brochure describes, the weekly costs range from $180 to $205 per child per week for members and $295 to $310 per child per week for non-members. While there’s Care4Kids and financial hardship available through the organization, this doesn’t support low-income and working families in town. This is cost-prohibitive for families with multiple children. A family with two children for one week pays a range of $360 per week to $620 per week depending on age bracket.

With the vacant Recreation Department director position anticipated to be filled in May, the timeline of options for residents is limited. With no doubt that COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted, our children of all ages need play and socialization programs. One alternative would be to subsidize the weekly rate using the town budget to make it affordable for families to sign up. Another solution would be to work with the school system to bridge summer programming using ESSER II funding and town budget.

I ask town leaders to think about the amenities that families had access to that are no longer available. Families did enjoy the community pool by take swimming lessons or hosting events. Either way, I know that investing in children and teenagers is a good investment. We do it as parents every day. The more learning opportunities that we can offer in mentoring, sports, theater, arts, and music, the better a town we will be. Communication and culture help us connect. Let’s not outsource summer camp in 2021.

Lorena Venegas

East Haven