In a perfect world, parents could drop off their children, go to work, and pick them up when the last bell rings. Unfortunately, that is not the reality for most. Many parents are left with the difficult task of figuring out where their children are going to go in the hours between school ending and when the parent gets out of work. Complicating matters, what about the summer months when school is not in session? Children don’t just need a babysitter – they need to engage in activities that grow their mind, body and spirit.
Afterschool programs are crucial to the development of children. School doesn’t end when children walk out of the classroom. Students need to keep learning and be active. With budget shortfalls, schools are struggling to provide more with less. Now more than ever, children need an additional resource. And that is where afterschool programs come in to play.
Report after report has shown the benefits of afterschool programs to children: better test scores and performance in the classroom, they are less likely to engage in dangerous behaviors and there is less stress for the family (http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/after_out.cfm).
Unfortunately, not every afterschool program is created equal. That’s why organizations like the Florida Afterschool Network (FAN) are so important. FAN strives to provide unified statewide leadership to advocate for the development, enhancement and sustainability of innovative, high quality afterschool programs and policies.
FAN was created, so there would be a focused approach to this population that is often overlooked in policy discussions. By creating a coalition of organizations and bringing together some of the most educated and influential individuals on the topic of childcare, FAN is hoping to give every child the opportunity to succeed by providing as many resources as possible. Parents can’t do it alone. Teachers can’t do it alone. It’s up to the community and organizations like FAN to help children become the best adults they can be.