County to use millions of COVID relief funds for youth sports and camps

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The county of San Diego will use $2 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding for youth sports and camps at county parks.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Oct. 5 to appropriate the $2 million of coronavirus relief funding for youth sports and camps. The funding will provide $1.8 million for fee waivers and reimbursements while $200,000 will be used for county Department of Parks and Recreation staff salaries and benefits to cover the administrative costs.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Board of Supervisors chair Nathan Fletcher.

The Department of Parks and Recreation facilitates more than 40 youth camps and programs, and county sports fields and courts are used by more than 120 outside youth sports organizations.

“We all know COVID put a big hit not only on businesses but also on kids playing sports and on families who are in the service industries in those businesses that were shut down,” said Supervisor Jim Desmond.

The funding will be used to offset registration costs for camps and sports leagues led by the Department of Parks and Recreation, and organizations who lease facilities on county parks will also be eligible for reimbursement. The Department of Parks and Recreation estimates that 15,000 to 20,000 juveniles will benefit from the program.

“We’re incredibly proud of our county parks system, our county parks team. They do incredible work,” Fletcher said.

The county will prioritize funding to assist families and communities most impacted by the coronavirus restrictions. Participants, facilities, and organizations in ZIP codes within the bottom half of the California Healthy Places Index will be eligible for full waivers and reimbursements for up to $100 of registration costs while organizations in the top half of the index will be eligible for reimbursement of half the costs.

“One of the challenges we have in District 1 is that we do have a lack of county services and county parks, so some of these funds will not be going to those who are most in need, which is what ARPA funds were created for,” said Supervisor Nora Vargas.

“I would encourage as we move forward to look for opportunities to partner with perhaps nonprofit organizations and others because the reality is a lot of where our parks are geographically located are not in the areas that have the highest density of population,” Fletcher said. “Perhaps we can reach out to some groups so groups of kids can be able to go up to a county park.”

“There’s a lot of work to do in the system to make it equitable so that people who need it the most are the ones that receive it, but I’m okay with supporting this,” Vargas said. “I just want to emphasize how important it is we’re moving forward.”

The Department of Parks and Recreation will work with recreational youth sports and camp organizations prior to their next registration period to ensure that the registrants’ families will receive the benefits. Requests will be processed in the order received. The Department of Parks and Recreation will review requests to determine eligibility and will work with a single contact at each organization to provide the reimbursement.

County to use millions of COVID relief funds for youth sports and camps

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