A substantial and growing body of research points to the positive academic, social and emotional outcomes associated with participation in quality after-school programs.
Parents, in particular those with children in an after-school program, believe that after-school programs provide a safe space for children and agree that, among other things, after-school programs help to excite kids about learning, to become physically active and to develop interest and skills in science, technology, engineering and math learning.
Parents of kids in after-school programs also strongly believe that after-school programs positively influence children’s behavior — improving behavior in school and reducing the likelihood that they will commit a crime, use drugs or become a teen parent. Many after-school programs extend beyond the traditional school year, providing summer learning programs that help combat summer learning loss among students.
Parents with a child in an after-school program agree that after-school programs provide the following benefits:
Reducing the likelihood that youth will engage in risky behaviors such as commit a crime or use drugs or become a teen parent. A fun experience. Opportunities to be physically active. Developing social skills through interaction with peers. Access to caring adults and mentors. Gaining workforce skills such as teamwork, leadership and critical thinking. Excitement about learning. Help completing homework. Also, gaining interest and skills related to STEM. Improvement in behavior in school. Improvement in school day attendance. Receiving healthful beverages, snacks and/or meals.
The lack of after-school programming affects every member of community, not just those with school-age children. It impacts our economy, our workforce and the quality of all of our lives.
To keep the lights on for afters-school programs in our community, we need a combination of private investments and public investments at the federal, state and local levels in teacher programs to increase availability and ensure the affordability of programs in communities around the country. We have too much to lose not to.
Please come out to Bayview Park in Key West on Oct. 20 from 4 to 8 p.m. for the annual Lights On After School Celebration. Bring your children and most importantly bring your support for after-school programs in our community
Daniel Dombroski, executive director, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Keys Area