According to After School Alliance’s report “America After 3 PM,” 68% of parents from low-income households agree that the current economic conditions have made it difficult for them to afford placing their children in an afterschool program. Currently 19,165 children (14%) in South Dakota participate in an afterschool program, yet 36,409 (32%) would be enrolled in a program if one were available to them.
KIDSTOP, a United Way Funded Agency, is filling the gap. The program provides a stable, supervised, and safe place for low-income, high-risk elementary and middle school youth in the Pettigrew Heights area of Sioux Empire at no cost.
“Many families have shared that without KIDSTOP, their child or children would be home alone during out-of-school time,” says Kassidi Smith, Executive Director of the program. “Statistics show that lack of supervision in children can lead to behavior problems, decline in academics and safety issues, which is why our number one goal at KIDSTOP is to keep children safe, structured and supervised.”
Children attend the program, located at First United Methodist Church, from 2:30 to 5 p.m. each day after school and from 12:30 to 4 p.m. in the summer. Once arriving, a project or topic of the day is introduced. Daily activities have a strong emphasis on self-esteem, leadership and life skills, academic improvement, and character building.
Working parents and businesses also derive benefits from afterschool programs that ensure that youth have a safe place to go while parents are at work. Parents concerned about their children’s afterschool care miss an average of eight days of work per year, and this decreased worker productivity costs businesses up to $300 billion annually (youth.gov).
“Both of my girls absolutely love having a place to come after school that offers so many activities for them to participate in,” says Brandy, a parent with children in the KIDSTOP. “I love the fact that I know my kids are somewhere safe where they are genuinely taken care of after school while my husband and I are at work. I can’t thank this program enough, not just for my girls, but for the countless families this program helps.”
Last year, an average of 23 children and 10 middle-schoolers attended daily. Eighty-three percent of regularly attending participants make progress on Power of Asset Building chart, which leads to academic success. In 2017, KIDSTOP plans to serve 50-60 children and 15 middle-schoolers.
A $500 donation to Sioux Empire United Way would provide transportation to children from school to KIDSTOP for at least 12 weeks, which will ensure they are safe, supervised and out of the elements. To learn how to make a gift that would support KIDSTOP along with 86 other local programs, inquire with your employer or call us at 336-2095.