NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach CountyWest Palm Beach


West Palm Beach Police Athletic League program closes leaving children with no place to go

'Having this environment, having this space is so monumental,' Francky Pierre-Paul says
Posted at 6:15 PM, Sep 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-28 22:54:23-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — About 20 families are without afterschool child care after the Police Athletic League (PAL) of West Palm Beach program suddenly closed its doors hours before receiving kids.

The West Palm Beach Police Department supports the program with funding and staffing.

On Thursday, WPTV reporter Ethan Stein showed what the conditions were like inside the building. He said he had been inside the building for an hour and was sweating due to a broken air conditioner.

Staff told WPTV that it’s been this way for weeks, including when kids are in the building.

One parent said the nonprofit organization provided no water or food for kids in months. Multiple staff members said they took it upon themselves to buy those items.

Francky Pierre-Paul employee PAL of West Palm Beach.png
Francky Pierre-Paul talks about his concern for the kids who have no place to go after the program closed it doors.

Francky Pierre-Paul is one of those employees.

He said he won’t receive a paycheck for his last two weeks of work, however, he's mostly concerned about kids with nowhere to go.

"I can find another job. But, am I going to find an Aaron or another Jacob or another Sarah? Am I going to find another child like that? No. Am I going to catch them when they’re doing something bad? No. Am I going to be there when they are contemplating suicide? No," Pierre-Paul said. "So, having this environment, having this space is so monumental."

According to the PAL of West Palm Beach's latest tax filing, it made more than $100,000 in 2021. Documents said the nonprofit serves around 100 kids. Staff said they now serve about 30 kids.

Snacks bought for kids at PAL of West Palm Beach Sept 2024
Snacks bought for kids at PAL of West Palm Beach by staff.

However, in a statement, the nonprofit painted a different picture saying, "…our demand over summer has increased quicker than expected."

It also said its program is "…a safe place to dream.." and "…cares about our employees."

WPTV is working to get more details on what led to the sudden closure and what future plans may be in place to help PAL get back in good standing.

Below is the full statement obtained by WPTV from Board Chair Katrina Long-Robinson :

It has always been our mission to aid in the prevention of juvenile crime and violence by providing mentorship, service, athletics, recreational enrichment,educational opportunities, and resources to the youth of West Palm Beach.

To mitigate these risks of increased crime, we offer exposure and a safe place to dream and know that their dreams are achievable. We provide supportive structures for our youth to launch, take risks, fall, and rise. By making significant investments in their empowerment (through the support of our donors), education, knowledge, skills, and sports, they excel, knowing that they have the support of their village.

As a result, our demand over summer has increased quicker than expected.We care about our youth and we care about our employees. We want to continue to service our community and are identifying alternatives to get back to servicing our students and community.

We invite you to partner with us in that regard.