From Backpacks to Briefcases
By Vincent Lyles
Like many working parents, I always want to know where my children are when their school day ends. And I know I am not alone in this daily concern. The afterschool hours between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. are peak times for a youth to become victim to or perpetrate a crime. For an unsupervised child, that’s 20 to 25 hours per week at risk for trouble. For some latch-key students, both self-care and boredom can also increase their likelihood to experiment with other risky behaviors such as drugs and alcohol.
While safety and supervision are main concerns for after-school care, parents also want their children to get educational support and be part of fun learning opportunities that will keep them entertained and engaged.
To help parents find and locate quality child care providers, the Wisconsin Department of Child and Family Services launched YoungStar – the state’s child care quality and rating improvement system. Wisconsin child care providers (including those that receive Wisconsin Shares subsidies) are evaluated annually and given a program quality rating from one to five stars. As parents identify potential child care providers, they can visit youngstar.wi.gov to compare ratings. The ratings are based on providers’:
• Educational qualifications and training
• Learning environment and curriculum
• Professional and business practices
• Child health and well-being practices
It can be a real challenge to find a high quality day care provider that is safe and has a variety of structured, daily enrichment activities led by trained adults. According to an article published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a recent report from the Milwaukee-based nonprofit Public Policy Forum stated that Milwaukee County “lags behind the rest of the state in sending children from low-income families to quality day care programs.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee is known for offering innovative, fun learning, outcome driven programs designed to impact a child’s academic performance, character development and healthy decision-making for all young people who need us most. What many people may not know about us is that we operate state-licensed school-age child care centers and who serve youths ages 5 to 14 (our membership is up to age 18).
Being a licensed child care provider is a natural fit for the Boys & Girls Clubs. At our 36 Club locations, for $5 a year, our members take part in dozens of high-quality, out-of-school programs led by trained and caring adult staff in fun, safe facilities. Plus as a Wisconsin Shares child care provider, families are eligible for our free, early drop-off and late pick-up during non-school days and vacation breaks.
In addition, Wisconsin Shares can offset expenses families might otherwise incur for summer programming. As part of our quality assurance process, Boys & Girls Clubs continuously offers training and development so our employees and locations can meet child care regulations.
Child care or out-of-school care is important for so many working families. After school programs like Boys & Girls Clubs are helping parents feel good at 3 p.m. Mothers and fathers know their son or daughter is safe, is getting help with homework, and being exposed to opportunities they would not have otherwise. Together, let’s work to make out-of-school time a safe and enjoyable time.
Vincent Lyles if the president and CEO of The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee