Hundreds of kids across Fresno will now have access to low-cost city-sponsored basketball, soccer, flag football and more thanks to a new program offered through the city PARCS department.
City leaders gathered Wednesday to announce the Youth Sports Fee Waiver Program — an effort that will reduce costs for city-sponsored recreation programs offered through the Parks, After School, Recreation and Community Services Department. As of Wednesday, many programs that cost $75 will be reduced to $20 per child for qualifying low-income families. The city will use $300,000 of Measure P funds that were set aside in the last budget cycle.
“The best investment a city can make is an investment into the children of this city,” said Fresno City Council President Tyler Maxwell during a press conference at Einstein Park in central Fresno.
Maxwell said his own experience growing up in poverty is part of what inspired him to launch the reduced fee program.
“My family was one of those families that struggled financially for a really long time,” he said, “and I know that this type of program would have meant the world to them when me and my brother were growing up.”
Mayor Jerry Dyer thanked Maxwell for launching the initiative, calling it the “first of its kind” for Fresno’s PARCS department. He also emphasized that youth will benefit from the coaching and mentorship that sports provide.
“When we reduce financial barriers for the kids of our community,” Dyer said, “everyone wins.”
City leaders weren’t alone in celebrating the new initiative.
Resident Martha Chavez thanked city leaders for the new opportunity on Wednesday.
Chavez enrolled her daughter, Olivia, in a soccer program in the past. “She loved it,” and “can’t wait” for the next sport. Oftentimes, low-income families like hers can’t afford to put their kids in sports because it’s “very expensive,” Chavez said.
“I only have one child, so I can only imagine the burden of families that have multiple kids,” she said.
It isn’t immediately clear how long the fee waiver will be available. Maxwell said he’s meeting with the mayor to discuss the budget next week in advance of the annual budget planning that will take place in June.
He also said about $100,000 should be enough to cover program costs through June, and that the remaining $200,000 could cover program costs through fiscal year 2024.
Details on eligibility and how to apply are available at the bottom of this story.
Increased fees coming for other Fresno park amenities
Other park fees, meanwhile, are expected to rise. Earlier this week, the PARCS Commission approved in an 8-0 vote to recommend a new PARCS Department Master Fee Schedule to the city council.
The updated PARCS master fee schedule includes increased costs to park amenities such as:
- Riverside Municipal Golf Course — green fees
- Neighborhood centers, parks, and playground facility fees
- General Recreation Fees
- Memorial Auditorium rental rates
- Camp Fresno Fees
Assistant PARCS Director Aldi Ramirez said in Monday’s commission meeting that some of the increases are due to Annual Consumer Price Index Increases for things such as minimum wage, fuel, insurance and more. Other fees increased to cover staff time to cover processing fees, maintenance costs, or to replace monthly rates with per day fee rates.
For example, Tournament flat fees per day for four or more fields at community and neighborhood parks jumped from $150 to $750, daily. Ramirez said this increase reflects the true cost to the PARCS department to manage such an event.
Some of these fees can be waved for low-income residents at the discretion of the PARCS director.
Nonprofit organizations with a valid nonprofit ID qualify for a 15% discount for certain community and neighborhood park fees, such as field reservations for tournaments or sports.
Camp Fresno fees include a new category of fees for non-city of Fresno residents based on research on camps run by other cities.
Meanwhile, some large scale special events at regional parks will see increases parking cost rates, such as the upcoming Boots in the Park event at Woodward Park.
The new fee schedule will be presented to the Fresno City Council on Feb. 9 for final adoption. If accepted, the new fee schedule will go into effect in July 2023.
Do my Fresno children qualify for reduced sports?
Who can participate? Youth ages 3-15 that live in the city of Fresno
Are my kids eligible? To demonstrate need, families must show proof, such as:
- CalWORKS, EBT, SNAP, or WIC program participation
- PG&E Care or FERA program recipients
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) foster youth
- Household income at or below 150% federal poverty line
Which sports qualify for the fee waiver?
Children enrolled in the two below programs will benefit from the Youth Sports Fee Waiver Program:
Bitty Programs for children ages 3-4 and 5-6
- Bitty Basketball
- Bitty T-Ball
- Bitty Outdoor Soccer
Junior Programs for ages 7-9, 10-12, and 13-15
- Junior Basketball
- Fitness Camp
- Junior Flag Football
How much are fees reduced? Many programs that cost $75 will be reduced to $20 per child for qualifying low-income families. After registering, this rate is valid for one year for any sports a child is enrolled in.
Welcome package: Youth will receive a welcome package including a duffle bag, water bottle, shirt and shorts or a jersey. Youth that complete the sport program will receive equipment such as a a basketball, football, or baseball glove.
Participants will also have access to free Fresno State collegiate tickets to see live sports matches. Fresno State professional athletes “are huge inspiration to many children here in the Central Valley,” Aaron Aguirre, Director of the PARCS department, said on Wednesday.
How do I sign my kids up?
There are a number of ways to enroll in he youth fee waiver program.
Online: Families can apply for the fee waiver program in an online registration process here. Forms are available for download in English, Spanish, Hmong and Punjabi on the city’s website at:
https://www.fresno.gov/parks/measure-p/ under the “Youth Fee Waiver Program” tab.
In Person: Families can also sign up in person at Dickey’s Youth Community Center on1515 E Divisadero St, Fresno, CA 93721 from Monday-Friday, 8am to 5pm.
Over the phone or email: Fresno families interested in signing up can also contact the PARCS Customer Service Team at 559-621-7529 or email@example.com.