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MN Gets an “A” in Improving After School Care

October 26, 2009

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota is making top grades when it comes to improving after-school programs. A new study says the state is one of only a few to show a dramatic reduction in the percentage of children taking care of themselves after school.

Brian Siverson-Hall with the Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children says the state is being more purposeful in planning for after-school care. He is concerned, however, that the state funding lost in the recent economic downturn could reverse some of the progress, especially for those who can't afford after school care.

"We weren't asking for what I would consider huge investments; it filled an important gap for those children and youth who did not have access to after-school opportunities."

The survey finds that 32 percent of the state's school children are on their own in the afternoons, and another 14 percent are in the care of brothers or sisters.

The survey also shows that the percentage of Minnesota children in after-school programs increased to 12 percent, up from just eight percent in 2004. Siverson-Hall says the after-school industry is becoming wiser.

"You're seeing this real infusion of quality that is different from when the field started, which was more born out of necessity for working families. Now we've already filled the necessity on need and now we're filling the quality options."

Siverson-Hall says that in January a new program will implement science in after school-programs.

Minnesota ranks among the top 10 states in satisfaction with after school program quality and satisfaction with program activity variety.

The report, "America After 3 P.M.," is available online at
www.afterschoolalliance.org

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MN