How do your children spend their afternoons after school? Ideally children spend it with their parents doing homework and playing, but for many families this is not the reality. Quality afterschool programming has become essential as more parents work during the afternoon and evening hours. An article was recently printed in the Salt Lake Tribune Opinion’s section that detailed the reasons why it’s important for parents to have afterschool programming options for their youth. One that I find particularly important is this one:
“… the U.S. Department of Education reported that students who spend no time in after-school programs or extracurricular activities are 49 percent more likely to use drugs and 37 percent more likely to become teen parents than are program participants. With quality out-of-school programs, kids are in a safe environment and less likely to engage in other types of dangerous behaviors such as underage drinking and gang involvement.”
Studies show that most of the crimes involving youth occur between the hours of 3 – 6 pm. Quality afterschool programs provide a safe place after school. In addition, youth can have positive role models, assistance with their academics and engage in enriching activities.
Where can I find afterschool program in my community?
- Utah Afterschool Network – provides an extensive list of afterschool program across the state of Utah
- Youth Services – offers free programs in Kearns, West Valley and Magna.
- Afterschool Alliance – offers tips on finding a quality program
Utah facts regarding afterschool programming according to the Afterschool Alliance:
- In Utah, 28% (146,788) of K-12 youth are responsible for taking care of themselves after school.
- Of all Utah children not currently enrolled in afterschool, 35% (166,334) would be likely to participate IF an afterschool program were available in their community.
- 86% of parents in Utah are satisfied with the afterschool program their child attends.
- 9% (45,286) of Utah’s K-12 children participate in afterschool programs
In August 2010, a Leadership Academy was held at Westminster College for afterschool program professionals and school administrators/staff to focus on collaboration, goals, breaking down barriers to success and creating a holistic community approach to afterschool programming. KSL came and aired a segment on the importance of out-of-school opportunities for youth and to encourage the legislature to invest more in these endeavors.
When looking for a program, it’s important to find one that fits your and your family’s needs. Many programs are offered in schools, recreation centers and community centers and have reasonable fees (including sliding scale fees). Most importantly is that your child feels safe and has opportunities of growth.
One of our afterschool program students said this about the afterschool program at Kearns Jr High:
“I like the program because the staff is very nice and friendly and care about the members of the program. I also like the program because it’s fun and keeps us out of trouble and it’s very enjoyable.”
Your Two Cents
Do you think more after school programs are needed? Teens – do you go to after school programs why or why not? Parents – do you send your youth to after school programs why or why not? What would make the programs you know of better?