Editor, As any working parent in Liberty County can tell you, the hours immediately following the regular school day can be a time when parents worry about what their children are doing — whether they’re safe and constructively engaged, or getting into trouble. Over the past two decades, after-school programs have helped millions of families in Liberty County and across the nation.
Unfortunately, millions of young people are without the after-school programs they need because of funding shortages — a problem made even worse by the current recession and budget cuts.
In a recent survey, the parents of more than 18 million children nationwide said they would sign their children up for after-school programs if the programs were available in their community.
As the president of the Georgia Coastal Youth Inc. in Riceboro, I’ve seen firsthand how after-school programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. These programs make a tremendous difference in the lives of our children, our families and our communities.
In the fall of 2012, I was named an after-school ambassador by the Afterschool Alliance. I’m one of only a dozen after-school leaders in 12 states. My role will take me to our nation’s capital Feb. 6-7 to meet with policymakers and build support for after-school programs on the national level. I’ll join hundreds of my after-school colleagues from across the country in educating our senators and representatives about the benefits of after-school programs and the need for more resources to support them.
The nation’s economic difficulties have taken a toll on after-school programs. Many programs have cut back hours, and some have been forced to close altogether. Our local recreation centers also are facing funding difficulties when it comes to supporting youth-development activities.
Parents and students benefit from afterschool programs, as do teachers and principals, who will tell you that such programs are vital in reinforcing academic learning from the regular school day.
— Chris Stacy
Georgia Coastal Youth Inc. president and Liberty County after-school ambassador