Letter: Response to Mr. Williams
To the Editor:
The response is appreciated, Mr. Williams. First, I'm sorry for the error regarding fundraising; it was not intentional. Second, I want to be clear that I agree that the youth center is vital to the town and community.
Additionally, I applaud that the youth center raised its rates, but I don't understand why it's "an option for families to pay more if they are able." Many in this community can pay a going rate for their children's care and the quality programming offered at the Williamstown Youth Center (WYC).
I gather that the national average for after-school care is $261 a week for one child. That figure is based on three hours a day, 15 hours per week, at an average $17.40 per hour.
According to the local school calendar, a school year constitutes 180 days of school for students. At the least, that's 2.5 hours per day for 180 days of after-school care provided by the WYC, totaling 450 hours per child. If I understand correctly, the youth center charges $900 per child for after-school care for the entire school year. Assuming that's accurate, then the youth center receives, per child, $2 per hour. If a child only attends the youth center for half a week, the rate increases to $4 per hour. Both rates are well below the national average.
This community comprises academics, lawyers, wealth managers, physicians, and other steady and well-paying positions. Yet it almost seems taboo for the WYC to be paid what it's worth by the families who can afford it. At the heart of the matter, the issue isn't that the town's taxes support the youth center but that it's only just that the youth center should first be paid by its families, adequately and appropriately, for the quality services they receive.