Youth getting help with their homework, participating in hands-on projects to learn new skills, fun physical activities to let off steam after a long day in school. These might be the images that come to mind when you think of afterschool programs. But on Tuesday at a briefing in City Hall, local policymakers heard first hand from parents that afterschool programs are much more – they help parents get and keep jobs.
“I am a working mom…If I didn’t have this program, I don’t know what I would do,” said Gloria Molt, a parent whose child attends an afterschool program at Rooftop Elementary School. “My kids love their afterschool program. They don’t want to go home – they love it there…[The staff at the afterschool program] really care about the youth…It’s inclusive and it’s a community. I would love to see more afterschool programs in the city like this where they provide children an opportunity to be creative and have a sense of belonging.”
Molt was among several other parents who told policymakers what a critical role afterschool programs play in supporting working families in San Francisco.
“When I say it takes a village to raise a child, I’m a firm believer,” Nicola Figgins, a resident of the Western Addition told the group. “The staff at Opportunity Impact invested so much in my daughter. They taught her skills she is using now that she is in college, things that I couldn’t have taught her as a single, working parent.”
“For me, the afterschool program has really been helpful,” a translator told the group on behalf of Guadalupe Yah Puc, whose son attends the afterschool program operated by Mission Graduates at Marshall Elementary School. “She works in the afternoons. When she gets to school to pick up her son at 6pm, he has his homework done and that is really helpful…She says she knows a lot of parents who work and would like their children to be in an afterschool program, but there are just not enough spaces.”
The briefing on Tuesday kicked off a week of “Lights on Afterschool” events nationwide aimed at increasing the awareness of the benefits afterschool programs have for youth, families, schools and communities. Throughout this week, afterschool programs across the city will be hosting open houses, parent nights, parades and other events to showcase to the community how they are supporting youth and working families.
The briefing was held by the San Francisco Afterschool for All Advisory Council, a collaborative effort between city, school district, private funders, parents and community partners, established in 2006 when the mayor and superintendent of schools pledged to support a citywide approach to afterschool.
The SF Afterschool for All effort has worked to increase the accessibility of quality afterschool programs for children and youth throughout the city. Current estimates show that about 28,000 youth ages 6 to 13 participate in afterschool programs in San Francisco, but that many more youth are on wait lists to attend afterschool programs.
Research shows that afterschool programs improve school-day attendance by incorporating hands-on learning, giving youth opportunities to apply what they learn in the classroom to the world around them, and building relationships with peers and adults in the programs. All skills they will need to be successful in life.
Visit this link for more information about the San Francisco Afterschool for All effort and for a list of local “Lights On Afterschool” events this week.