The Burbank City Council signed off on three years of partial funding for two programs for Burbank’s youth, including a school-based counseling program that parents, students and service-providers have said helps students deal with emotional challenges, bullying, depression and family problems.
The city’s three-year commitment comes at an annual cost of $270,000, the bulk of which will go to the Family Service Agency to help pay for its school-based counseling program.
Of the funds, $25,000 will go each year to the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley to help fund its after-school, drop-in program for middle school students.
Together, the two programs cost roughly $580,000 annually.
Through December of this school year, 316 youth took advantage of the service agency’s school-based counseling services, which officials have said improve students’ behavior at school and quality of life at home. Last school year, the program served 1,283 students, according to a city report.
Roughly 300 youth participate in the Boys and Girls Club drop-in program daily, the report stated.
Students who use the counseling services, as well as parents, volunteers and principals, spoke to the City Council last week about the program’s benefits.
“The young women and men of Burbank, they do not act out or misbehave because they know if they’re mad about something, they could tell a counselor how they feel,” said student Jaime Camargo, urging the council to fund the program. “The worst feeling is not having hope and that no one has hope for you as well… Give your children a chance because they are the future Burbank leaders.”
Sharon Springer, who volunteers several times a month with the Family Service Agency’s program, said she works with students who have complicated issues and need guidance.
“These are Burbank kids and they’re worth saving,” she said.
While the council committed to providing the funding, some council members expressed disappointment that the school district — which has reportedly agreed to provide $30,000 for the school-based counseling program — didn’t pony up more dollars.
“That’s how much they value the program, I don’t feel that’s right,” said Councilman Jess Talamantes.
School officials reportedly said they couldn’t afford to contribute more money, citing a $2-million deficit and massive budget cuts over the last five years, city officials said.
Even so, the council has asked city officials to coordinate a joint meeting with the Burbank Unified School Board to discuss future funding options for the programs.