Child Mental Health Advocates Urge Mayor de Blasio To Stop Summer Camp Funding Cuts Amid Youth Mental Health, Suicide Crisis

Press Releases

March 10, 2021

Amid the pandemic, youth suicide rates in NYC have risen alarmingly high; rates were on the rise before COVID-19 isolated young people across the state, due to poor investment in child behavioral health care system

School’s Out NYC funding ensures low-income middle schoolers, whose families have been hardest-hit by COVID-19, can enjoy community summer experiences

NEW YORK, NY — In response to Mayor de Blasio’s preliminary budget, which eliminates funding for the “School’s Out NYC” summer camp program for middle schoolers in New York City in low-income families, Alice Bufkin of the Citizens’ Committee for Children issued the following statement on behalf of the Campaign for Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids:

At a time when children across New York City have lost so much — social connections, their in-person school community and even their loved ones — Mayor de Blasio is working to strip away vital summer programming and social support systems for children when they need it most. Children have experienced profound trauma as a result of the pandemic, even as access to behavioral health supports has plummeted. Programs like “School’s Out NYC” (SONYC) summer camp offer children a vital connection to their peers and a wide range of youth and community services which can help prevent children’s behavioral health needs from escalating. The Mayor’s proposal to cut those funds at a moment like this will be devastating for thousands of families hit hardest by the pandemic.

As many as 24,000 low-income New York City middle schoolers rely on City funding to participate in SONYC, which the Mayor has eliminated in his preliminary budget. New York City kids need holistic opportunities like SONYC now more than ever to promote behavioral health and social-emotional wellbeing in children. As our children work to process profound loss and disruption related to COVID-19, SONYC is a lifeline for normalcy and connection. We strongly urge the Mayor to restore and expand its investment in SONYC in the Executive Budget in order to ensure that New York City’s children have a safe, engaged summer, regardless of family income.

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