After School Programs
With the school year starting soon, parents will again be trying to find
affordable ways to ensure that their children are being taken care of
after school. At least seven million and as many as 15 million “latchkey
children” return to an empty house on any given afternoon (U.S. Census
Bureau, Urban Institute estimates, 2000).
The after-school hours are considered to be between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. During this time frame youth are most likely to:
1. Commit or become victims of crime and violence.
2. Be in or cause a vehicle crash.
3. Suffer unintentional injuries.
4. Experiment with cigarettes, alcohol, or illegal drugs.
5. Engage in irresponsible sexual behavior.
It’s no wonder that there is such concern among parents and adults.
82 percent of adults say after-school programs are essential for their communities (Afterschool Alert Poll Report, Afterschool Alliance, 2000).
86 percent of voters indicated the need for a national commitment to ensure that every child has a place in an after-school program (JCPenney Afterschool Web Site).
There are many available programs, both locally and nationally sponsored. Many of these programs are very affordable for youth and teens. These programs are government funded or receive grants and donations that help keep membership costs minimal.
Some of the most recognized include:
· Boys and Girls Club
· Girls, Inc.
· Youth and Family Services
· Boy & Girl Scouts of America
· 4H Club
Well known organizations like the YMCA and Scouts give kids the opportunity
to learn while having fun at the same time. Other organizations provide
tutors for help with school work. A program like Girls, Inc. educate and
encourage girls to rise beyond expectations.
Another alternative is athletics that are provided through the school. A student can spend quality time learning about teamwork and fundamentals, as well as, receiving a healthy physical workout. However, the cost of sports can be a little more expensive, so it’s important to find out what equipment is provided and what costs you will be expected to pay.
Music lessons are another way for your child to enrich their minds while spending time with a supervising adult. If your child is interested you may find affordable or donated instruments. Many schools and communities will have an instrument drive. They will collect unused instruments and give students who may not be able to afford them an opportunity to learn music.
There are many questions that need to be asked when choosing the right program for your child. It is important to research more than one facility, and to ask questions.
First off, you will want to discuss with your child what they would like to do when they are done with the school day. This will help narrow down some of the choices.
While touring a facility be aware of the surroundings:
Is it safe and clean?
Do the children appear happy?
Is the staff attentive and cheerful?
Is there a good staff/child ratio?
Are the activities captivating the children’s attention?
Whether you choose education, recreation, or just plain observation a place for your child to go after school will have a positive effect on them and leave troublesome temptation in the streets.
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