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Hug a Caregiver: It’s “Lights On Afterschool” Day

October 18, 2007

White Salmon, WA – Today is "Lights On Afterschool" day, and at least 50 groups and communities in Washington have events planned to show their gratitude to those who provide after-school activities for kids. It's a national celebration to thank the caregivers and programs that provide a few hours of after-school activities and homework help for kids who would otherwise be home alone.

In White Salmon, Henkle Middle School has had its "Open Doors" after-school program for nine years. Principal Rick George explains why it program benefits not only kids and families, but the community at large.

"Law enforcement loves it because, when this program started, the juvenile crime rate lowered by half -- and it's stayed that way ever since."

However, many after-school programs struggle for funding. 2007 was the first year ever that the Washington Legislature allocated money for after-school activities. George says that clearly reinforces the need for them.

"Today's parents are working, sometimes two jobs, and they're not making a lot of money at it, but still they are contributing to our economy. These programs really help them and their children by providing a supervised, nurturing, and educationally stimulating place to go after school."

After-school advocates say there's more to be done. One-third of school-age kids in Washington, or about 347,000 children, still have no adult supervision in the afternoons.

To locate "Lights On Afterschool" events in specific cities, look online at www.afterschoolalliance.org.

Chris Thomas/John Robinson, Public News Service - WA