After losing state funding in 2015, which has not been restored, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County is hoping to stave off more cuts by garnering local support.
A $5 million funding cut for the Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs in the state budget last year resulted in a $220,000 loss to the Manatee County club, which had significant impacts, according to Dawn Stanhope, president of Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County.
“We had to cut back on staff,” she said Friday. “We had waiting list on clubs.”
While there is no word as to what cuts if any could be coming in the future, the club has still not been made whole from this previous funding cut and wants to be proactive in showing the state the value of these programs.
In an united effort as part of the Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, one of these ways is to ask local jurisdictions including the, county commission, city council and school board, for resolutions or letters of support of the programs. Next week, both the Manatee County Commission and Bradenton City Council are expected to take action to show their support of state funding for the Boys & Girls Clubs.
“I think that it is important for us to make sure as long as we have community groups like the Boys & Girls Clubs, they can do the most they can with the funding that they have,” said Commissioner Betsy Benac, who will ask her fellow commissioners Tuesday to adopt the resolution in support.
Currently, the Manatee County clubs serve 4,100 kids, which is just part of the approximately 138,000 children served throughout the state.
“We want to start the work early because it is important to get the message out,” Stanhope said.
For the Manatee County clubs, the state funds go toward prevention work and outreach in the community. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County has a calendar year budget so Stanhope said she did the upcoming year’s budget without any increases.
“It really limits our efforts to do that when we don’t have the funding,” Stanhope said. “This is really needed especially when so many kids don’t have other options after school. These programs are really helpful to help them succeed, reduce crime and have a healthier community.”
Without the funds, it limits what the clubs are able to do, Stanhope said.
“These programs are proven to work when we look at the host of issues we have in our community,” she said. “If we are not working on prevention with youth and outreach, then we are never going to address the problems fully. We really feel that the funds that come in to invest in our kids has a direct impact in our quality of life in our community.”