AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The traditional school day concludes in most elementary, junior high, middle and senior high schools by 3p.m. Literally millions of children and youths are "turned loose" nationwide after the school day is formally over. Is it shocking to anyone that most law enforcement authorities claim the highest juvenile crime rate occurs between 3-8p.m, immediately after the traditional school day comes to a close? In our society today parents and most adults responsible as care providers for children and youths don't get home until 6p.m. or later. Local government has a moral responsibility to provide supervised care for children during this most critical time period. And no one does it better than Phoenix, Arizona!
The City of Phoenix Parks, Recreation and Library Department provides after school programs during the traditional school year in 90 schools at a cost of more than $1 million. During the busy summer program the number of schools hosting programs jumps to more than 120. Some school districts provide bus transportation and meal snacks that are not tracked as part of the budget. Each school is assigned three recreation leader staff positions. These people are responsible for personalizing a program that meets the needs of the children or youths, the parents and the neighborhood.
The program is not just "bats and balls!" Recreation leaders may provide educational enrichment programs including school study sessions to inspire students to fulfill their homework responsibilities before they can participate. Teachers are often hired to provide instruction in computer applications, cooking, and wood shop as well as sports, crafts, games, drama and music.
Phoenix recently sponsored an extensive community organization initiative centered on violence prevention. Besides increased security measures at school facilities, after school programs were unanimously expressed as the most popular and influential strategy to reduce violence in schools. Keeping kids at their schools, at nearby park and recreation centers, or at church community centers has allowed Phoenix to turn the corner in battling youth violence.
The traditional after-school blueprint does not work at senior high school facilities. Senior high schools are often utilized right after school with school sports, clubs and cultural activities. In Phoenix several senior high schools have opted to have their "after school" program occur during the noon time. Noon times on senior high school campuses can be very troubling and challenging times for high school-age youth. Parks, Recreation and Library Department staffs visit several high school campuses with the Mobile Unit or set up shop in school cafeterias. Music, games, computers, job information, community service information, health news or whatever information high school kids want or need to know is provided.
Trends in after-school programs will need to change to keep up with changes in charter schools and year-round school campuses. No matter what it takes, the City of Phoenix is committed to providing safe havens for school age children after 3p.m.
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.