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After-school Care Squeeze Means More Latchkey Kids

December 29, 2006

Port Orchard, WA - Washington's rural communities and military towns have the most critical needs for after-school care as a safe alternative to kids staying home alone, but money is tight and the governor's new budget barely mentions after-school care.

Fewer than half of the state's childcare centers applying for "Quality Enhancement Grants" received them this month. One grant recipient is the Kitsap Family YMCA in Port Orchard, where program director Beth Pitts says grant money helps the centers keep after-school care affordable and safe alternative to leaving kids home alone.

"School-age childcare in particular is such a growing need, especially in this area, with the military families and the deployments increasing the need for a safe, nurturing place for children to be."

Janet Frieling of School's Out Washington, which administers the grants, says the governor's new budget focuses heavily on early learning, but after-school care is just as necessary.

"The investments made in the early learning system can, and will, be lost if they're not continued with support and investments in the 5 to 12-year age group."

School's Out Washington plans to ask the State Legislature for $5 million to expand after-school programs and staff training.

Chris Thomas/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WA