Despite the lack of universal agreement on what after-school programs should be, there are plenty of programs that do work and meet a range of needs. Here are just a few examples:
• The after-school programs run by the recreation department in Newmarket, N.H., in concert with the schools, fill after-school needs in a town of 8,500. A typical day at the community center finds dozens of kids playing basketball, jumping rope, working on computers, hovering around one of the GameCubes or listening to the juke box. The programs attract up to 200 kids per week, plus the 40 or so a day who just drop in.
• The Boys and Girls Clubs of Northern Westchester, N.Y., provided a Guatemalan family with scholarships to its preschool program, and eventually its after-school component.
“Now the father is learning English and working as an engineer again,” says Brian Skanes, the organization’s executive director. “The mother is going back to school and doing well. Without us, they couldn’t have gone back to work. It’s frustrating for us that so many families need that service.”
• Programs run by the YMCA of Austin, Texas, allow parents in the city of 643,000 to work and still know that their kids are safe, says Thom Parker, executive director of the Y’s program services branch. Parker is especially mindful of the kids who have been in the YMCA’s care since they were toddlers. “We have to provide them with something that is going to enrich their lives,” he says. That can include academic help, or the chance to act in a play during summer camp. “We take care of kids,” Parker says.
From United Parenting Publications, August 2002