Foley said the activities are part of life for families in Costa Mesa.
“The thought of hundreds of kids not being able to have organized activities after school and just be running around in the neighborhood,” she said, “doesn’t make me feel good about the future for our community.”
On average, about 750 children attend the city’s free after-school programs on a daily basis, said Jana Ransom, recreation manager.
The drop-in programs don’t require children to sign up, pay or attend on regular basis.
Foley is challenging city staff to find grant sources to pay for ROCKS.
“The reason why kids are in those programs is because their parents are working and they don’t have the money,” she said, adding that her children participate in the programs.
Costa Mesa is facing a projected $16.4-million deficit in next year’s budget. To balance it, city leaders are proposing across-the-board layoffs and cuts of programs and services.
The after-school programs cost $295,000 a year, an amount that includes pay for the seasonal part-time employees who supervise them.
The proposed cuts also include the early childhood, day camp and youth-sports programs.
Although the early childhood and day camp programs are cost-based, they are proposed for elimination because the site where they are held might also be closed to cut costs, Ransom said.
The city is proposing the closure of Balearic Community Center, where the early childhood and day camp programs are held. Closing Balearic would save the city about $126,000.
The early childhood and day camp programs might continue to be offered if the city can find a location for them to be held, Ransom said.
Before the programs can be eliminated, Foley said the city must do all in its power to save them.
Implementing a small fee for the after-school programs is one of the options the city has to offset the cost, Foley said.
“We need to start thinking outside of the box because these are important programs for residents,” she said.