When after-school funding ran out in 2008 and parents couldn’t afford to pay a weekly tuition, Bibb County schools had to close about half of its 22 after-school programs.
It left many children unsupervised, without a snack or safe place to study.
But now the school system and Bibb County’s Division of Family and Children Services are hoping to team up to revive the programs in the year ahead, director Marjorie Almand said.
DFACS was given a $4 million grant through the Department of Human Resources, Childcare and Parent services in October to start the programs.
It could potentially provide 800 Bibb children ages 4 to 12 with after-school care.
“It could be the answer to a lot of our problems,” Almand said. “From the hours of 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., that’s when children are at greatest risk” for accidents, sexual and physical abuse, sexual activity or to commit crimes.
Research shows students enrolled in after-school programs are also known to have higher grades and test scores in school, she said.
Almand hopes to get at least one after-school program running in February and expand from there. Last month, DFACS hired Andy Moore, who has 20 years of experience in after-school programs, as its after-school coordinator.
The programs would be located at Bibb schools, would offer snacks and provide tutorials as well as physical education, arts and music.
Almand says she would even like to provide child immunizations through the programs.
“We’re enthusiastic about it. I think it will give us the opportunity to serve more kids and expand services,” Bibb County schools Superintendent Sharon Patterson said.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of interest.”
First, DFACS must determine which children will qualify for the care, which may include household income and whether parents are working in the guidelines. Program logistics, hiring staff and getting the programs approved by the school board would also have to be completed.
Because of the amount of work, only about $2 million of the $4 million annual grant will likely get used in this grant cycle, Almand said.
“There is no way we can use all the money since we haven’t gotten (the programs) started,” she said.
“It makes me cringe. But working together it was all of us trying to comply with confidentiality and other state and federal rules.”
A steering committee has also been assembled to develop the ASP model which comprises Almand, Patterson, Superior Court Judge Phillip Brown, Peyton Anderson Foundation Director Juanita Jordan, State Rep. David Lucas D-Macon, River Edge Behavioral Health Executive Director Shannon Harvey, Macon Juvenile Court Judge Tom Matthews, Bibb County Health Administrator Mary Alexander, Macon-Bibb County Economic Opportunity Council Executive Director Jimmy Samuel and Bibb County Commission Chair Sam Hart.
Almand said she hopes to form a council with other after-school programs in the community such as the Boys and Girls Club, Campus Clubs and Motivating Youth Foundation run by former NFL player Roger Jackson to share resources and ideas.
DFACS plans to apply, and get another $4 million grant in the next grant cycle to put after-school programs back in Bibb schools.
“We’ve developed a lot of memorandum of understandings between agencies,” Almand said. “With the needs of the children it is imperative we utilize these resources.”
To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.