CINCINNATI — As departments share budgetary needs with city leaders, Cincinnati Recreation Commission director Daniel Betts said the agency is experiencing serious challenges.
According to Betts, the CRC is facing $40 million in deferred maintenance, meaning repairs and renovations to fields and facilities throughout the city. They are currently struggling to staff lifeguards at pools and aquatic centers. And, the agency has been dealing with inconsistent funding for the Youth to Work program over the last few years.
“We need a commitment for anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million for the Youth to Work program,” Betts said.
The Youth to Work program provides employment and enrichment opportunities for people ages 14 to 24 and can lead to full-time employment. Betts said this program is vital to giving teens more opportunities in Cincinnati.
“That is the kind of thing that will help lift. Being in poverty and being in part of that circumstance should not dictate where your future is at and how you should grow up in your city,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a death sentence. It should be how we’re breathing life into our kids.”
The Cincinnati Recreation Commission took on several new roles through the pandemic, including operating vaccination sites, testing sites and spaces where kids could do their school work. The centers have also consistently been relied on to keep kids safe and away from gun violence.
“We’re called up by our community to step up in many different ways to utilize centers and our amenities to support demographics across the city. And we’ll continue to do that to the best we can,” Betts said.
But to do that, Betts said there are some things the CRC needs "more of — not less of."
"I’m always concerned in this cycle for things when we’re looking at budget reductions,” Betts said.
It is unclear if the city will commit what Betts said is needed to the Youth to Work program.
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