San Diego County’s Department of Parks and Recreation wants to give youth sports and camp programs shares of $1.8 million to help get 15,000 to 20,000 kids back out to play in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was announced Wednesday.
The County Board of Supervisors approved using $1.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds earlier this month to reduce or eliminate sports and camp registration fees for children. The action was proposed because the COVID-19 pandemic created financial hardships for many families and businesses that could keep children out of sports and camp activities.
Youth sports and camp programs in unincorporated communities can apply for shares of the money at one of two reimbursement levels — up to $50 or $100 per youth participant — by filling out an online application form.
Programs must meet a handful of criteria to be eligible:
- They must be operators of recreational youth sports or camps
- They must run those activities in an unincorporated community, including schools, or at a county-owned property
- They must have valid federal and/or state tax identifications
- Businesses and organizations that receive funding must use it to reduce registration fees for youth who want to attend their camps and programs
The camps and programs include soccer, art/dance camps, football, cheer camps, baseball, softball and gymnastics.
Parks will prioritize two-thirds of the funding — $1.2 million — to help teens and youth who live in areas that were likely the hardest hit by the pandemic, using the state’s Healthy Places Index as a guide. The index rates census tracts within counties and gives them numerical scores to determine how healthy or unhealthy they are based on six metrics: economics, education, housing, health care access, neighborhood and clean environment.
The program will provide the $1.2 million to cover up to $100 per participant, to organizations and camps serving youth in the lower two quartiles of the Healthy Place Index.
Participants, facilities and organizations in the upper quartiles would also be eligible for partial waivers and reimbursements, up to $50 per participant.
Parks officials said because youth sports and camp registration periods vary and often come months ahead of the actual events, the department will reimburse organizations in two batches to ensure reimbursement helps youth and teens who actually participate in camps and programs, rather than estimates based on early sign-up projections.
For more information about the program and how to take part, go to Sdparks.org.
City News Service contributed to this article.