Arranging before- and after-school child care is an issue that often haunts working parents.
But private day care isn’t their only option.
Each of the 18 Columbia County elementary schools offer before- and after-school programs.
The Brierpatch Before and After School Care Program at Greenbrier Elementary School serves 80 to 90 pupils in the mornings and about that many after school, said Principal Judy Holton.
“We have had a great response for it,” Holton said. “We get positive feedback and it is a great service.”
Until the current school year, the programs were not organized through the school system countywide and were operated independently by each school. Therefore, the details, including hours, costs and rules, varied by school, said Michele Sherman, the director of student learning for elementary grades in Columbia County.
This year, the school system standardized some of the basic aspects of the before- and after-school programs. The programs begin at 7 a.m. and run until 6 p.m. The morning program costs $15 each week and it costs $45 each week for the afternoon session. A $25 registration fee also is required.
“It just grew to be across the schools,” Sherman said. “We just were trying to make sure the schools were equitable in how they were charging.”
The programs are affordable and offer working parents peace of mind. Their children stay at school, not shuffled on buses to other locations, and are with teachers and paraprofessionals who help with homework.
At Stevens Creek Elementary, pupils meet in the computer lab for morning activities before being released for breakfast at 8 a.m.
In the afternoons, they get a snack and help with their homework before enjoying some free time, which often includes outside play time or a movie, said Donna Hickmon, who oversees the program.
Hickmon said many pupils want to stay and play when their parents come to pick them up.
“We really do care about them and love them,” Hickmon said of the about 40 pupils each in the morning and afternoon programs.
For information on the before- and after-school programs, visit www.ccboe.net or visit individual school Web sites.