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Keeping the “Lights On” After School

March 31, 2008

Columbus, OH – There's a statewide effort to keep the "lights on" after hours at Ohio schools, by making after-school and summer programs available to more kids.

Liz Nusken, director of the Ohio Afterschool Network, says local events around the state this spring will highlight the benefits of after-school programs. She says academic achievement tops the list, especially in areas like science, math, and technology, all of which are important parts of Ohio's education and economic development plans.

"After-school programs and summer programs are really showing themselves to be a tremendous opportunity to take what kids have learned during the school day and make it real, with hands-on learning experiences."

Nusken says about 30 percent of Ohio kids are home alone between the time they get out of school and when their parents get home from work. After-school programs, she explains, are a productive way to fill that gap.

"After-school programs keep children safe. The research shows a huge spike in crime between the hours of 3:00 and 6:00, when children are either the perpetrators or the victims of crimes. So, it's very important to keep kids in settings where they're supervised by adults."

The problem, says Nusken, is that there's a critical shortage of after-school programs and funding for them. To fill the current demand, programs would need to expand to include about 250,000 additional children in Ohio.

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - OH