After School Matters
Chicago Teen Reach
Chicago After 3 p.m. study: The Afterschool
For working parents, the gap on the calendar between 3 p.m. and
5 p.m. is riddled with challenges. The biggest: Who's watching my
Affordable and safe afterschool
options are hard to come by, especially in elementary and middle
school, before school-sponsored extracurricular activities likes
sports or drama kick in.
But rest easy, Chicago parents:
You're doing a pretty good job. A new study finds 27 percent of
Chicago's kids are enrolled in an afterschool program; that's 80
percent higher than the national average. The study, conducted by
the Afterschool Alliance, also found that 36 percent of Chicago
children are participating in summer learning programs, compared to
25 percent nationally.
"It didn't surprise me to see that
Chicago has a high enrollment because the infrastructure is so
strong," says Jodi Grant, executive director of the Afterschool
Alliance. "The big point was to shine a light on the incredible
programs in Chicago."
Some of the big players in the
afterschool programs include After School Matters, which has
afterschool clubs, apprenticeships and internships; and Chicago
Teen Reach, which focuses on sports, academic enrichment and life
But nearly a third of kids are being
left unsupervised; that's slightly higher than the national
average, and concerns Grant. "Chicago is better than most, but we
still have a lot of work to do," Grant says, especially when it
comes to the high cost of some afterschool care options. Grant
recommends free, supervised hangout spots like the library or
neighborhood recreation center.
However, Grant says another issue is
that "the economy had been so bad and the program had been
underfunded for many, many years."
Organizations like JCPenney, which
sponsored the America After 3 PM study, are working to raise more
money for afterschool programs. Through October 26, JCPenney is
promoting its "Round-Up" event, which lets customers round their
purchase total up to the nearest dollar and donate the change to
local afterschool programs.
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