Before Chandel Riley can come home to hang with mom, she spends four hours at after school. "Besides that, there's really nothing for me to do after school," she said.
"I focus a lot better, I don't have that stress, that added worry, about what's going on with my child," said her mother, Karen Lee.
But whether the city can afford to provide peace of mind to Karen and to the parents of seven hundred other children next year is in question.
"You're left with having to reduce the number of young people who are in it, or reduce the sites," said Commissioner of Youth Services, Charles Reaves. Here's why: RASA's only source of public funding, the federal government, is slated to cut a third of New York's after school money. RASA run's its program on the 900,000 dollars it gets every year from Washington. While it's hard to say how much of that is at stake, any cuts, the commissioner says, puts kids at risk.
"A good meal, a nutritious meal, they receive extra-curricular learning, and it's just a safe-haven where parents come to pick them up," Reaves said.
A safe-haven, and a place that can boost grades. The city says more than half the kids in the program see test scores improve. "Last marking period, my grades weren't the best, and this marking period, they came up very high, so it really helps," Riley said.
"You can't have a No Child Left Behind program, and then cut an after school program, that's devastating," said Reaves.
While the program isn't cut yet, Senator Schumer acknowledges that it's going to take a fight to reinstate all of New York's after school funding. "We need them, and we're going to do our best to restore them," said Schumer.
"When we think about it being non-funded for next year, we've been trying our hardest to find some way to get out into the community, to help them help us refund our program," Riley said.
Commissioner Reaves says they'll work at securing grants, but is doubtful that grant money can make up for the public money that is now in serious jeopardy.