After School Care Matters: Cutting Funds Cuts Futures

Studies have shown that the after-school hours can be dangerous ones for children. The Department of Justice reports that 29 percent of all juvenile offenses occur on school days between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and that the number of violent crimes committed doubles in the hour immediately after school is let out (U.S. Department of Justice, 1997).
Find out why after school programs matter from the experience of Maurice Shaffer, Atlanta After School Program Director. Over the last couple of years, I have had the privilege of supporting Maurice Shaffer and the After School All Stars program at NW Atlanta schools. One of the first things this team did is sought out the family and community engagement team.

Questions #1: Why are after school care programs important for youth?

The hours from 3 pm – 6 pm are most vulnerable hours for our students. Students can be involved in negative behaviors, experiment with sex, gangs, drugs, alcohol, and other criminal behavior. A comprehensive after school program will give parents a peace of mind, where students are safe and continue to learn. After school programs give students opportunity to explore their passion and develop their talents. In addition, offering free comprehensive programs are economically sound and cost effective to parents and society. It costs less to fund after school programs than to house them in juvenile system. Providing high quality after school programs will deter students from getting involved in the criminal justice system.

Question #2: In what ways have you seen after school programs help students and families?

Quality after school programs have gone beyond a babysitting service to a more structured environment. Families can be a part by enrolling in parenting classes as well as participating in bonding time during family-events like mother/daughter events, father daughter dances, and fatherhood activities.

Question #3: What does funding for after school programs support?

Staff, supplies, training, professional development, programming, field trips, cultural development for the students. It allows us to expose our children to experience they most likely would never have if after school programs weren’t in place.

Question #4: How do after school programs prevent juvenile delinquency in schools and communities?

Students are occupied with learning and engaging programs enhancing critical thinking skills, problem solving abilities, and conflict resolution that divert their attention from delinquent and negative behavior. Our programs reaches over 100 students. Many of these students come to school, focus, stay out of trouble and do what’s required because they want to participate in the after school program.

Question #5: How does after school enrichment/outreach support families and communities?

 

After school enrichment programs provides children a constructive atmosphere, opportunity to be creative, outside the box learning and parents with the relief that their children are in a safe, learning environment.

Reform in education is needed, but not cutting essential programs that not only support the academic success of students, but their social, emotional development. The proposed budget cuts for after school programming is disturbing. It will cost the government more money in the long run if children become involved in criminal behavior. Kids should be promoted and be in an environment where they can express themselves and given the the proper support to be kids.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.

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