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Fri, May 24

Kids find safe havens at before- and after-school programs

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<p>
Assistant to the Director of Kids and Company Joann Mattson works with Kai Hawkins, 6, at Taylor Hicks Elementary School during the Kids and Company After School Program in Prescott.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<p> Assistant to the Director of Kids and Company Joann Mattson works with Kai Hawkins, 6, at Taylor Hicks Elementary School during the Kids and Company After School Program in Prescott.

"The goal of our after-school program is to see that no child in kindergarten through the sixth grade in the Prescott Unified School District should have to go home to an empty house," said Nicole McNally, PUSD's director of school-age child care.

Phil Young, Humboldt Unified School District human resources director, went one step further. He said, "HUSD's goal with its Before- and After-School Homework/Activity Club is to provide a safe and academically meaningful site for before and after school for our kindergarten through fifth-grade students."

Diana Armenta, the YMCA's after-school and summer camp director, said, "Our goal is to provide a safe and fun environment for children between the ages of 5 and 13."

Why is it so important that the tri-city area has after-school programs?

Quality, adult supervised before- and after-school programs are an essential opportunity for children and youth to continue learning, according to the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence.

The center also points out "school days between 3 and 6 p.m. are peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with risky behaviors for unsupervised children and youths. Also, during these hours unsupervised children and youths face the most serious danger of becoming victims of crime."

McNally said PUSD offers its before- and after-school program from 6:30-8 a.m. and 2:45-6 p.m. on weekdays, and from 2-6 p.m. on early-release days at all its elementary schools except for Abia Judd.

Young said HUSD offers its before- and after-school program from 6:30-8:15 a.m. and from 3:15-5:30 p.m. weekdays at Coyote Springs Elementary School and Granville Elementary School. Only students from CSES go to its program, while HUSD buses students from Lake Valley Elementary School, Liberty Traditional School and Mountain View Elementary School to the GES site.

Humboldt Elementary School opted out because it has the Boys & Girls Club program. No one from the Boys & Girls Club was available for comment.

Cindy Daniels, Chino Valley Unified School District coordinator of student achievement, said while CVUSD does not have an after-school program, starting one is one of the district's goals for this year.

"We have parents who work in Prescott and enroll their kids in Prescott schools because they have after-school programs they can place their kids in," she said. "We also have employees who commute to here who would like to enroll their kids in our schools, but the length of days don't jibe."

The YMCA's after-school program runs from 3-6 p.m. on weekdays, and from 12-6 p.m. on early-release days.

The PUSD, HUSD and YMCA programs all have time set aside for the youngsters to get their homework finished.

"A lot of the parents walk in at 6 p.m. With their homework done, they can spend time with their children. Also, the children are excited and proud that they can say, 'I've got my homework done,'" McNally said.

Sandy Christiansen, HUSD's club director, said her program has homework period, organized games, science experiments and art projects and a group reading time for a new chapter each week.

"Parents really like it that the atmosphere at the club is the same as during the school day, only more relaxed," she said.

McNally said PUSD's program's offerings are basically the same as HUSD's, though they also have their children make cards for servicemen overseas, etc.

Armenta said the YMCA's after-school program offers more for its participants. "We offer swimming, gymnastics lessons and time on the climbing wall in addition to time for children to get their homework done," she said.

The children participating in the YMCA's program also spend time in Lindquist Park, which is next to the Y.

Registration fees for the three programs are:

• PUSD: Five days a week: $185 a month. Morning only is $56 a month.

• HUSD: One-time $50 registration fee. Morning only: $15 a week. After school only: $15 a week. Morning and after school: $30 a week.

• YMCA: One-time $30 registration fee. Member: $8 per day. Non-member: $10 per day.

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