Some Kentucky schools will keep the lights on after regular hours on Thursday, Oct. 14, as part of a nationwide observance celebrating the benefits of after-school programs.
"Lights On Afterschool!" is supported in Kentucky by several organizations and public agencies, including the Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSCs) of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS). Sponsored nationally by the Afterschool Alliance, "Lights On Afterschool!" highlights the need for more after-school programs that keep kids safe, assist working families and improve academic achievement.
"Child safety is paramount to this cabinet," said CHFS Secretary James W. Holsinger, Jr., M.D. "Quality after-school programs not only keep kids protected, but also may contribute to children’s overall well-being by teaching them social and academic skills and improving their physical health."
Many of the cabinet’s community partners, including certified and licensed child care providers and social and civic groups -- are participating in "Lights On Afterschool!" activities.
Some of the planned events include the following:
n Louisville - The Berrytown Family YMCA will receive a grant from JCPenney in a ceremony at 3:30 p.m. A local store manager will present YMCA staff a $5,000 check, which will be used for computer software and staffing. This YMCA is a "Kids Café" site, where neighborhood children up to 17 years old can get a free meal three evenings a week. Before dinner, after-school activities include tutoring.
n Fort Knox – The U.S. Army’s School Age Services will host an open house for parents. Children have decorated the room with light bulbs they have painted and will share essays about how after school programs enlighten them. The center routinely serves about 120 children ages 6-10 from Fort Knox and Hardin County.
n Cox’s Creek, Nelson County - The Bulldog Center After School Childcare Program will celebrate its after-school activities on Friday, Oct. 22. Families are invited to Roger’s Corn Maze on Highway 509 for marshmallow roasting and a trek through the maze. Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for children 12 and under.
A wide variety of after-school programs are available in Kentucky, although demand for quality after-school care continues to exceed the need statewide. Programs are operated by faith-based organizations, school districts, civic/social organizations, licensed day care or family child care providers and other community groups. Parents are urged to always ask if a program or center is licensed or certified by the state or local government.
Parents should also keep these things in mind when selecting an after-school program:
Facilities - Does the program provide a safe, clean environment? Is there enough space for activities and quiet time? Are the restrooms adequate? Is the space cheerful and appealing to children?
Staff - Does the staff consist of responsible and caring adults who like children and can provide support and guidance? Are staff first aid certified? Is supervision adequate?
Activities - Are there good resources, such as a books, craft supplies and sports equipment? Do the activities look exciting and challenging? Are they age-appropriate? Are the participants having fun as well as learning? Are the activities offered ones that your children like to do or want to learn? Are nutritional snacks or meals provided?
Development - Does the program coordinate group and individual learning to be sure that participants benefit as much as possible?
You can measure quality after-school care by what you see and hear. Be sure to visit a program before and after your child is enrolled. And ask lots of questions -– no good caregiver will mind.
Parents can learn about area child care options from their local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCRRA). Call the CHFS Division of Child Care at (800) 421-1903, or the Kentucky Child Care Network at (877) 723-5002 for a list of service areas and CCRRA phone numbers.
If you have concerns or questions about safety or regulatory issues at your child’s day care, contact the Division of Regulated Child Care in the CHFS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at (502) 564-2800.
For more information about "Lights On Afterschool!" and a listing of Kentucky events, log on to http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/. For more information about day care licensing, visit the OIG’s Web page at http://www.chs.ky.gov/oig/. Child care information is available at http://cfc.ky.gov/help/child_care.asp.
– 30 –