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WHITESBORO – The Martin Luther King Community Center is home to two of Middle Township’s youth programs.

On Dec. 3, Township Committee heard a request for financial support to allow those programs to gain newly-required state licensing.

 The Homework Club, a joint effort started by the Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro, Inc. and the township’s Department of Recreation, is a mentoring-and-study program that works with students after school four days a week from October to May. 

The local school district also contributes just over $50,000 annually to pay for teachers who assist in the homework program. That program draws about 75 to 80 students.

The Department of Recreation’s Summer Camp hosts about 90 children five days a week for nine weeks when school is out of session. 

The Rainbow Summer Camp is open to area youth from kindergarten to seventh grade and runs from the end of June through August.

In March 2017, the state issued revisited requirements for licensing of all child care centers. The licensing process involves a list of requirements that the center and programs must meet including staff background checks, program and health requirements, and transportation issues.

The committee was told that the Department of Recreation that operates the MLK Center can meet all of the requirements but needs financial assistance on one, the environmental testing of the facility and grounds. 

The total estimated cost of the test and certification is $8,000.

The money is a one-time cost that would allow the officials managing the two programs to apply for state reimbursement and other aid.

As managers of a licensed youth program, the Recreation Department will be able to apply for assistance from state nutrition programs that will cover much of the expense associated with food for the children and even the salary of the cook.

The fact that the summer program draws 85 percent of its participants from low-income families also opens up other sources of state reimbursement that cover most of the salary expense associated with the camp.

The township committee supported the licensing effort.

To contact Vince Conti, email vconti@cmcherald.com.

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