Letters to the Editor

Navy youth program lacking

I find it incredibly frustrating that more and more so-called benefits and things that are meant to be family resources are constantly being stripped away from Navy families.

My son attended the old youth and teen center for the base, when it occupied the building currently housing American Eagle (PPV housing). At that time, the open recreation program encompassed ages 6-14. Once the new state-of-the-art youth facility was built, the program was restructured. It shares its spaces with the school age care program, which is a structured daycare type program, with the fees based on the parent/guardian’s income (versus the open rec programs that had a flat monthly fee before, and are now on a flat fee per year).

I find it ironic that at the time when the programs were combined into the same location, the open recreation, which was available to children also eligible for the daycare type setting, was changed. No longer was there an overlapping of ages. The open recreation program was now only for middle and high school aged children. Those kids who previously utilized the open recreation that were of elementary school age were now relegated to the “daycare” program, which is also very pricey in comparison to the rec program.

At the time it was combined, I questioned the Child and Youth Division Services head on why. Her reply was that we here at NAS Whidbey Island were getting in line with what the rest of the region, and the Navy, were doing with youth programs. Interestingly enough, a quick call to the Youth and Teen Center at Jackson Park in Bremerton, and the Admiral Boorda Center in Bangor, let me know that they provide youth programs for ages 6-18. I also did a recent followup call to verify that their programs had not changed. My son has waited patiently till the time he is in middle school, so that he can once again utilize and enjoy the open recreation program (which, for the record, he has never been a part of the school age care program).

My son finished elementary school this June and was extremely excited about finally being able to return to the youth center and actually experience the new location for the first time. Much to our dismay, because children are still eligible for the school age care program upon completion of 5th grade, even though they are considered middle schoolers, they are unable to attend the youth center’s open recreation program till the next school year begins.

It’s sad when the almighty dollar is more important than having a variety of programs available for our children and their individual needs.

Dawn Benz

Oak Harbor

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