Belmont Needs More Aftercare Options
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Access to safe and high-quality aftercare is an urgent need for working families. Belmont currently has an aftercare crisis, particularly at the elementary school level, as there is not nearly enough space to fulfill the demand. The current situation negatively impacts the safety and the social/ emotional development of many of our town's youngest school children. We understand that the School Committee's Policy and Procedures Subcommittee is meeting on Tuesday morning, March 6, to discuss this issue, and we urge the subcommittee to do all that they can to address this very serious need in our community.
For families who are unable to access aftercare through school programs, there are tremendous financial costs. According to research conducted by the Afterschool Alliance, 81% of parents in Massachusetts reported that aftercare helps them to keep their jobs. In contrast, aftercare programs that serve only a fraction of a school's population significantly limit professional opportunities for Belmont families, to the detriment of our entire community.
Currently in Belmont, there are large differences in the proportion of students that can be accommodated in the various elementary school aftercare programs. For instance, the program at Burbank is actually larger than the program at Wellington, despite the fact that Burbank's overall student body is significantly smaller. At Wellington, students who do not get an aftercare spot in the initial Kindergarten lottery -- or who move to Belmont after this lottery occurs -- can end up on the waiting list for multiple school years.
Current aftercare providers have indicated that they are willing and able to expand their existing programs if more space is made available. We understand that the town plays a key role in determining this access, and we ask that the Superintendent and the School Committee please work to make more space available so that aftercare can be made accessible for ALL Belmont families who seek it. If adequate space is not available at the local elementary schools, we urge the town to develop alternative space solutions so that afterschool programming can better accommodate the needs of the families in our community.
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