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Groups Nationwide Want to Keep "Lights On After School" Today

After-school programs allow children to expand on what they've learned during the day in a hands-on way. (School's Out Washington)
After-school programs allow children to expand on what they've learned during the day in a hands-on way. (School's Out Washington)
October 20, 2016

SEATTLE – Families and communities across the country today are marking Lights On Afterschool, the 17th annual event celebrating the role after-school programs play in keeping children safe and expanding learning opportunities.

Despite increases in the number of children in programs after school, one in five Washington children remains unsupervised, according to a survey by America After 3PM.

More than a third of Washington parents say they would enroll their children in a program if one were available to them.

Kevin Wright, King County director of the Washington State University Extension, says these programs allow students to expand on the things they learn in the classroom.

"They have an opportunity to make mistakes in a safe environment, and then be able to correct those mistakes, learn from them and really put what they're learning in the classroom to work in a hands-on, tangible way," he explains.

The WSU Extension 4H, Schools Out Washington, Washington STEM, Lockheed Martin and Flying Heritage Collection Museum, where the event is being held, today are highlighting after-school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming with the Drone Discovery challenge.

According to the America After 3PM data, the vast majority of working families would feel at ease if their children were in after-school programs. However, two in three lower-income households say the current economic conditions make it hard to find an enriching program.

When parents do find an opportunity for their children, Wright says working-class families also find a big asset to their lives.

"It definitely benefits working families, and I think a lot of times you'll find out that parent has more contact with the after-school provider than they might with any of their child's teachers, because they're picking them up every day or dropping them off every day, and they actually get to see them and find out how their son or daughter are doing," he states.

Last year, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California included the Afterschool for America's Children Act in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which ensures federal funding for after-school programs.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA