ST. GEORGE — The Leisure Services Department of the city of St. George is one of 16 entities to receive an Aftercare Match Partnership grant to expand Washington County School District’s after-school programs.
The Department of Workforce Services Office of Childcare funded the three-year grant, which will allow three elementary schools – Heritage, Sandstone and Sunset – to provide 12 hours of after-school care each week.
According to Dawn Eide-Albrecht, St. George recreation supervisor, Coral Cliffs Elementary was the only elementary school involved in the program for years. The grant that was funding the Coral Cliffs after-school program expired in June, and all programs in Utah had to reapply.
The city of St. George was selected for the match grant, which went into effect in July and will run for three years with the opportunity to reapply. The awarded amount is based off of identified dollars through the Leisure Services Department that strictly apply to after-school child care.
In order to use grant funds, schools must be considered Title I. After district-wide shifts, Coral Cliffs lost its Title I designation, rendering it ineligible for the awarded funds. Eide-Albrecht said this prompted the decision to select new schools and expand the program from one to three locations.
Sandstone and Sunset had after-school programs funded through different means, which have since run out, allowing the Leisure Services Department to adopt the students that qualified for the previous care and restructure the program.
Eide-Albrecht said the programs will be initially held to a maximum of 20 students each.
“Right now we’re in that hard position where we don’t feel we can have the numbers like we had at Coral because we had an amazing staff,” she said.
While at Coral Cliffs, the city’s after-school program had six staff members and a supervisor. Now, the program is actively working to secure at least three staff for each location.
Eide-Albrecht hopes each program will have 40-50 kids with six staff each by the end of November.
“We would rather have quality than quantity.”
The city is currently accepting applications for after-school staff.
The program has three components: physical education and nutrition, interpersonal development, and career readiness and tutoring. Students participate in free and structured play and complete their homework during after-school hours. They can also play on four-week community sports teams.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah and Rocky Vista University have also partnered with the program to offer mentorship and teach age-appropriate science lessons.
According to Eide-Albrecht, daycare centers in the area charge an average of $100 per week, per child. Due to the grants, the after-school program at each school ranges from $0-25 for 16 weeks, depending on the family’s needs.
After-school programs at each school are a total of 32 weeks, from Aug. 28-Dec. 20 and Jan. 15-May 7. Sandstone and Heritage have after-school programs Monday-Thursday until 5:30 p.m. and Friday until 4:30 p.m., while Sunset – which gets out an hour earlier – only has the program Monday-Thursday until 5:30 p.m.
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