Centers Face Financial Challenges

Funding issues has forced a Dallas children's community center to make severe cuts to programs offered and one center had to close.

West Dallas Community Centers is a 78-year-old organization that provides complementary educational programming to more than 750 children from ages 5 to 17.

There are four centers that are open year-round and considered safe havens for children, 95 percent of whom live in public housing.

But this year, administrators faced a dramatic reduction in funding.

"During the summers we had anywhere from 60 to 100 kids at each site,” said Executive Director Cheryl Mayo. “And I only had staff for about 40, and those kids didn't have anywhere to go. So, in terms of our financial situation we really need a lot of help."

One of centers had to close completely because there was no money for repairs and upgrades.   And for the first time ever, this year, parents were asked to pay a registration fee.
"We had a sliding fee,  it was $20 for one child, $30 for two children and many of the parents, they had difficulty paying that,” Mayo said. "They're trying to make ends meet, some of them are working one, some even two jobs, most of them have more than two children and it wasn't something they had budgeted for, so we have parents on payment plans for $30."
The people behind these centers say they are a vital part of not just this community, but the entire city.
“We're trying to keep our kids in a safer place, and by them coming to these places, it's keeping them busy and out of the street,” said parent Yadira Urbina.

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