After the final bell of the school year rings next month, how will working families take care of their elementary school children during those long summer days?
Central Oregon Youth Development's After the Bell STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) program has expanded to offer full-day childcare for local students entering kindergarten through fifth grade.
"For the last two years, the parents have been asking why we don't have a summer program, so there's definitely a need. It's been on our mind," said Central Oregon Youth Development Director of Donor Development Brittany Hall.
Established in 2011, Central Oregon Youth Development Inc. operates two after school programs in Prineville. The Landing is for students in sixth through 12th grades and is housed at First Baptist Church. Crook County After the Bell for younger students is based in a modular on the Pioneer Complex. The programs are designed to support the academic and social success of students.
Families may pay for the full 10-week summer program or take advantage of the drop-in rate. Limited scholarships are available for families needing financial assistance.
Children enrolled in kindergarten for fall may attend if they have an older sibling also enrolled in the program.
The summer program begins at noon Wednesday, June 12 when public school ends. Regular summer hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday through Aug. 23. Breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack will be provided.
Dallas Endicott has served as the After the Bell site coordinator for five years, operating the program from 2:30 to 6 p.m. school days. However, next month, she will leave the program.
"We are grateful for her time and dedication to the program and wish her the best in her next endeavors," Hall said.
New site coordinator Stepheni Lester will take over at the end of the school year and is currently shadowing Endicott at After the Bell and getting to know the students. Lester has eight years of diversified experience with youth-related non-profits throughout Central Oregon.
Two or three assistants will join Lester this summer.
Lester has created a daily schedule and weekly STEM themes to keep the children engaged.
"Because it is a longer program, the day is going to have a set flow, and we're going to incorporate the themes of that week," Hall said.
Families will drop their children off between 7:30 and 8:30 each morning. Daily activities include breakfast, organized free time, curriculum-based activities, lunch, recesses, free choice, games, snacks and clean-up time. They may take a few field trips, play in the local pool and visit nearby parks.
"We're trying to stay in a walkable distance because we are right in the center of town," Hall said.
She's excited about the weekly themes and said Lester has a lot of great ideas.
When the Rockhound Pow Wow comes to town, the youngsters will learn about geology, anthropology and archeology. During Super Stars week, Lester will incorporate science, technology, engineering and math into the astronomy lessons. Students will learn some U.S. history during Fourth of July week, and they'll use Legos to learn about engineering.
After the Bell will also partner with the children's programs at the Crook County Library, such as the Summer Reading Program. They may also get a survival training from Crook County Parks and Recreation.
"We're trying to bring as much as we can into the classroom — that way we're not having to commute with the kids," Hall said.
Although After the Bell is fee-based, Central Oregon Youth Development also raises funds and accepts donations for the program.
"We have also been fortunate to receive funds from local donors in response to our most recent door-to-door campaigning for our summer programs," Hall said. "They have been vital in making this program possible. We are still hoping to find more funding from within our community."
The Ford Family Foundation and Oregon Community Foundation have awarded grants to Central Oregon Youth Development. Washington Federal, Pacific Power, Rotary Club of Crook County, Autzen Foundation and Prineville Kiwanis Club have given funds to be used for the summer programs.
Hall says the expanded summer program hours were designed to help working parents, alleviate stress and serve the community.
"I really hope it serves the purpose that we were trying to achieve, which is to accommodate that parent who works a normal job," Hall said.
After the Bell
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