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Create permanent funding for youth services in Nassau County

The Nassau legislature has reversed its plan to cut $6.4 million from funding for Nassau youth services, which consists of 37 local nonprofit organizations serving 50,000 children [“Nassau lawmakers OK $46M in fee hikes,” News, Nov. 24].

I respectfully request that County Executive Edward Mangano, the county legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority consider redefining youth services in the budget to create permanent funding and avoid future cuts due to fluctuations in the economy.

Cuts to youth services are not the best fiscal practice because they will only create a larger budget deficit down the road. Youth services include education advocacy, mental health counseling, before- and after-school programs, and prevention of delinquency, gang membership and suicide.

Without youth services support, state and federal mandated services costs would skyrocket. When children have inadequate support from this first line of defense, they will very likely tap into help from the Department of Social Services, the Office of Mental Health, Medicaid and the juvenile justice system. Youth services should not be viewed as discretionary spending, but as quasi-mandated services that save money. Statistics show as much as a tenfold savings in mandated services for every youth services dollar spent.

There should be a reclassification of youth services to tie them to mandated services to reflect this symbiotic relationship.

Susan Liu

New Hyde Park

Editor’s note: The writer is the chief financial officer for the Long Island Advocacy Center, one of the 37 nonprofits providing youth services.

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