DC Youth Programs See More Stabilization With First DC Council Budget Vote

Out-of-School Time programs are on a path toward OST for all. Youth homelessness gains some stabilization, but leaves mental health and workforce development programs unfunded.
Press Release
For Immediate Release: May 11th, 2022

(May 11)—Yesterday’s first DC Council budget vote on the 2023 fiscal year budget is an improvement on current fiscal funding for Out-of-School Time (OST) programs. The combined investments of $22.4 million move the District one small step closer to fully funding affordable, high-quality afterschool programs for all youth.

And while we applaud Mayor Bowser for protecting funding for youth homelessness systems, our coalition made the case for a nearly $3 million enhancement to cover rising inflation and operational costs, which she did not include. Thanks to the DC Council’s Human Services Committee for adding an additional $1.1 million to the system to support youth experiencing homelessness, but unfortunately, there is still no funding allocated to much-needed accessible mental health support and targeted workforce development programs.

Councilmembers agree that replacing federal relief funds with local dollars, establishing sound leadership and accountability in the Learn24 office, and improved grant management protocols are all important priorities. While the District depends on its OST partners to provide vital services, District agencies lack budget transparency and timely payments to their grantees. This places out-of-school time organizations in the uncomfortable position of having to find creative work-around strategies to deliver the services that are so vitally needed by our young people.

Carlos Manjarrez DC Action Director of Policy and Equity Research said: 

“The DC OST Coalition made it clear, even before the budget season, that the administrative challenges they face on a regular basis limit their ability to meet the needs of District parents and kids. New investments, particularly those that include recurring dollars, are a welcome step forward. But the Learn24 office needs to resolve the administrative challenges that stand in the way of building a comprehensive and truly accessible out-of-school time sector. Our young people deserve nothing less.”

Rachel White, DC Action Senior Youth Policy Analyst and Youth Economic Justice Coalition Co-chair, said: 

“On behalf of the Youth Economic Justice and Housing Coalition, we appreciate the DC Council’s Human Services Committee for adding an additional $1.1 million for youth homelessness direct services. We are hopeful that before the second DC Council vote, additional funding is secured to bring us closer to meeting the $3 million enhancement we requested to ensure the continuation of much needed programs and targeted services for District youth experiencing homelessness. We are disappointed that neither Mayor Bowser nor the DC Council was able to locate $1.5 million in funding to increase access to mental and behavioral health supports and targeted workforce development programming for youth experiencing homelessness.”

Read more about how youth will fare in the OST and Youth Economic Justice budgets.


About DC Action

DC Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization making the District of Columbia a place where all kids grow up safe, resilient, powerful and heard. DC Action uses research, data, and a racial equity lens to break down barriers that stand in the way of all kids reaching their full potential. Our collaborative advocacy campaigns bring the power of young people and all residents to raise their voices to create change.