Leahy, Hatch Introduce Legislation To Support Boys & Girls Clubs

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and former Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced legislation today to reauthorize a Department of Justice grant program for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  Leahy and Hatch have worked together in previous Congresses to secure funding for the organization, which has clubs every state.
The Boys & Girls Clubs Centennial Reauthorization Act will authorize funding for the organization through 2015.  There are more than 4,300 Boys & Girls Clubs in all 50 states, which serve nearly five million children every year.  The grant program will contribute to services and support the 50,000 staff members of Boys & Girls Clubs across the country.  The legislation comes at a time when participation in Boys & Girls Clubs programs is higher than ever, and many organizations have been forced to reduce services as a result of the current economic climate.
“Children all across the country benefit from the services provided by the Boys & Girls Club,” Leahy said.  “Funding for the Boys & Girls Clubs, particularly during this difficult recession, is vital to ensure that our children have positive environments to learn and grow.  This national organization has repeatedly demonstrated over the years that investing young people’s futures yields positive returns for our communities.  I am extremely proud of the work they continue to do.”
“The Boys & Girls Clubs of America offer critical services to our nation's youth,” said Hatch.  “I believe that mentoring programs make a tremendous difference in a child's life.  The Boys & Girls Clubs is a proven successful organization that enriches the lives of millions or American children.  They are truly the positive place for kids.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs Centennial Reauthorization Act is cosponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Judiciary Committee Member Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).  Leahy and Hatch successfully championed legislation in the 108th Congress to reauthorize the program through fiscal year 2009.
The full text of Leahy’s statement on the introduction of the Boys & Girls Clubs Centennial Reauthorization Act follows.

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Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On A Bill To Reauthorize The Boys & Girls Clubs Of America
December 22, 2009

 I am pleased today to introduce legislation to reauthorize the Department of Justice grant program for Boys & Girls Clubs.  I thank Senator Hatch, Senator Kohl and Senator Sessions for joining me in this effort.
I have partnered with Senator Hatch for many years on issues concerning the Boys & Girls Clubs, and this bipartisan bill shows the commitment of both Democrats and Republicans to the good work done by Boys & Girls Clubs across the Nation.
Children are the future of our country, and we have a responsibility to make sure they are safe and secure.  I know firsthand how well Boys & Girls Clubs work, and the real impact they have in our communities.  In my home state of Vermont, we are fortunate to have six Boys & Girls Clubs operating in 25 locations.  These clubs serve more than 14,000 youth in the State.  I often hear from parents, educators, law enforcement officers and others in Vermont about just how successful these Clubs are, and how they inspire youth to reach their full potential.
As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have pushed for more Federal funding for Boys & Girls Clubs.  This year, I recommended additional funding for youth mentoring programs, so that youth-serving organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs of America are able to continue making a substantial and real difference in the lives of vulnerable children.  I was pleased that Congress included $100 million dollars for competitive youth mentoring grants in the recently passed consolidated appropriations bill.
The current recession has hit many organizations around the country, threatening their financial health, and the Boys & Girls Clubs are no different.  At the same time, participation in these clubs has never been higher, and it continues to increase.  I believe funding is well spent at the community level, however, where the positive impact on our youth is felt most directly.
In the 108th Congress, Senator Hatch and I worked together to pass a bill to reauthorize and extend the programs of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America through Fiscal Year 2009.  Due in part to the support of Congress, there now exist over 4,300 Boys & Girls Clubs in all 50 states, serving more than 4.8 million young people.  The bill we introduce today will help us continue to support these important programs by authorizing Justice Department grants through 2015.
We need safe havens where our youth – the future of our country – can learn and grow up free from the influences of drugs, gangs and crime.  That is why Boys & Girls Clubs are so important to our children.
I hope all Senators will support this bipartisan bill to provide Federal support for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  Our greatest responsibility is to our children, and supporting Boys & Girls Clubs is just one way in which we can show our commitment to their future.

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