Many educators and education advocates are familiar with the “summer slide” — the learning loss that can take place among children when school is out. But for far too many children in our community, summer isn’t just harmful to their academic success — it can also be dangerous.
Especially in the summer, when school is out, the grid of resources that runs through our city and supports children and families — the many programs keeping them safe and preparing them for the future — is more important than ever. Although there are some great programs and initiatives to provide summer programming for students, that grid of support is still not available to enough children in our city.
With the recent spate of youth violence in our city, the Board of Directors of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, with the support of Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, has made an emergency request of City Council for funding to increase the number of children attending summer camps.
The Children’s Commission already serves more than 5,300 children in summer camps at 92 sites. Jon Heymann, CEO of the Children’s Commission, says that the agency is prepared to provide summer camp slots for an additional 1,443 children that right now cannot attend summer camp due to lack of funding.
At their meeting on Tuesday, June 23, the Jacksonville City Council is expected to take up the measure, which is 2015-441.
We urge City Council to approve this request for $541,125. Taking this action would go a long way toward giving every child the opportunity to plug in, allowing children in need to get what they need to stay safe and keep learning this summer.
Want to get involved? Now is a good time to contact your City Council members and ask them to approve this measure! You can find a list of council members and their contact information here: http://www.coj.net/city-council/city-council-members.aspx
You can read our letter to the editor about this here: http://jacksonville.com/opinion/letters-readers/2015-06-05/story/sundays-letters-support-funding-summer-camps
No resource in Jacksonville could be more precious than our young people, and the front-end investment in summer programming will pay dividends far into the future.