CONTACT:  Sarah Potter
Communications Coordinator

573-751-3469

Vol. 46, No. 75
October 18, 2012

Missouri Communities to Support Afterschool Programs

Gov. Jay Nixon signed a proclamation last month encouraging all Missourians to observe "Lights on Afterschool Day" on Oct. 18. This day calls for communities to engage in innovative afterschool programs and activities that ensure the lights stay on and the doors stay open for all children after school.

"We hope communities across the state participate in 'Lights on Afterschool Day'," said Cindy Heislen, director of Extended Learning at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. "Quality afterschool programs provide students with activities which support their learning and development, and complement their academic curriculum at school. These programs also furnish a safe and supportive environment for children who may otherwise take care of themselves at home after school."

The work of the Extended Learning section ties into the Department's effort of having all Missouri students graduate college and/or career ready, as well as the overarching goal of becoming one of the top 10 performing states in education by the year 2020.

Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness organization for afterschool programs and "Lights on Afterschool Day" organizer, encourages individuals to turn their front porch and schoolhouse lights on across the nation from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m. on Oct. 18 in support. According to the Afterschool Alliance, 3:00 - 6:00 p.m. on school days is the peak time for juvenile crime, experimentation with drugs and alcohol, or engagement in sexual activity.

2009 data provided by the Afterschool Alliance shows that 32 percent of Missouri's K-12 children are responsible for taking care of themselves after school. Furthermore, only 12 percent of K-12 children participate in an afterschool program in Missouri, although 32 percent of children who currently do not participate would if a program were available in their local community.

The Department currently operates two afterschool federal grant programs: 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) and School Age Community (SAC). These programs support 88 grant recipients with a total of 213 afterschool sites statewide. In addition to academically enriched opportunities, afterschool programs also include tutoring, mentoring, homework help, community service, as well as cultural, fine arts and sports activities.