CMEE Introduces New Access Program For Low-Income Families

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The Children’s Museum of the East End has introduced a new program to encourage low-income families to use the Bridgehampton museum without having to reach into their pockets.

Starting last week, all families that qualify for state or federal assistance can use their benefit cards for free admission to the museum for as many as two adults and four children. The electronic benefit cards used by residents who qualify for cash assistance from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, can be used.

CMEE is the first museum on Long Island to offer free admission for benefits cardholders. Its president, Steve Long, said this week that the museum’s board decided to implement the new program in keeping with an initiative of the Association of Children’s Museums, called “Museums for All,” that aims to ensure that museums are fully available to anyone regardless of background, ability or income level.

“The board was very much in favor of us making anyone who had this EBT card feel like they just had a regular membership card,” CMEE’s president explained. “It’s imperative for museums to enable people on the margins of any community to access the educational resources that are available.”

According to the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, there are at least 128,363 people in Suffolk County, as of June 2014, who receive benefits. CMEE welcomes about 60,000 visitors annually from throughout the county, according to a release.

Other leaders in the community who work with low-income families have hailed CMEE’s new program.

“Many of our children already participate in their programs now, so I’m glad they’re opening it up to other members of the community,” said Bonnie Cannon, executive director of the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center, located just down the road from CMEE on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike. “It’s a wonderful place. It’s great that they’re making it available.”

Mr. Long said that he hopes other museums will follow suit to make their institutions more accessible to low-income families as well.

“Every child deserves the opportunity to play, which is integral to our mission,” he said. “We want to make sure that literally every child here in eastern Long Island has access.”

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