President Donald Trump's budget proposal seeks to eliminate 19 agencies and 60 programs, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which funds local afterschool programs in all 50 states.
That proposal would affect 1.6 million children and families that could lose access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs.
In Pinellas County, for example, there are eight schools that are considered "high needs" and they use the 21st Century program.
If that program is gone, it'll affect close to 2,000 students in Pinellas alone. Those same eight schools qualify for dinner programs that feed hundreds of students.
“It makes me feel like it ain't ever going get no better, but I know it can, but we need a president that can make it better for the poor too, not only for the rich. We need help,” says Baria Neal, who uses the after-school program for her grandkids.
Neal along with neighbor Mary Glanton feel uncertain about the future for their grandchildren.
“That's not right because the kids got to have after school care because if they don't, they will be breaking into people's houses and robbing,” says Glanton.
Besides losing the programs, another big issue is food. Many times, these programs provide snacks and full meals. For many, it’s their only means for food.
“Here in Pinellas, we do have a hunger issue among our kids,” says Lynn Geist, director with the food service department for Pinellas county schools.
That hunger issue was so severe in 2013, the county added a dinner program.
“We will see kids waiting at the back door of the kitchen waiting for breakfast because they had nothing to eat the night before,” says Geist.
The county also partners with organizations to provide meals such as the YMCA, Boy and Girls Clubs and local rec centers.
While nothing has been said about the future of these organizations or even the free and reduced school lunches, staff still feels uncertain.
We are “Very concerned about the future of the program and what could be happening down the road,” says Geist.
Jodi Grant, executive director of Afterschool Alliance, released the following statement:
The Trump administration’s call for zero funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) afterschool initiative is a betrayal of the millions of students and parents who depend on afterschool and summer learning programs. This proposal would devastate working families. It is painfully short-sighted and makes a mockery of the President’s promise to make our country safer and to support inner cities and rural communities alike.