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Boys, Girls Club has waiting list of 203 students
Lack of funds prevents group from expanding
Sunday, September 16, 2012
By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge has 203 students on a waiting list to attend its after-school programs, but due to a lack of funds, those students may have to continue to wait.
To shorten the waiting list, the club would have to employ more staff at the facilities and/or open additional facilities, but there is not enough money at this time to do that, according to Lisa Nunn, operations officer at Boys and Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge.
If funds were available, the first step would be adding staff at the current after-school facilities at Albert Harris Elementary, Patrick Henry Elementary and Sanville Elementary, she said. Nunn added that there is no waiting list at the club’s Teen Center.
Standards require that there be one staff member for every 18 students. At the end of August, there were 454 students and 35 staff members between all the facilities, she said.
Last year, there were 38 staff members and 425 students. While there was no additional funding this year, more students were allowed to try to make sure that each staff member has 18 students, she added.
The Boys and Girls Club closely monitors student attendance so it can let students in. If a child’s attendance at the after-school program lags, parents are called and if it is confirmed that the student will not be returning, another child will take that spot, she said.
Even if it’s only one child a month, “we definitely let them in,” Nunn said.
The waiting list is on a first come, first served basis and parents still are encouraged to get on the list because the club never knows when a spot could open up, Nunn said. Some students have been on the waiting list for a few years and finally were able to enter the program this year, she added.
To make sure that students receive after-school care, parents are referred to other area programs at the YMCA and MHC After 3, Nunn said.
Currently, there are 70 students on the waiting list at Albert Harris Elementary, 105 at Patrick Henry Elementary and 28 at Sanville Elementary, according to Nunn.
This is the first year that Albert Harris and Sanville have had a waiting list, she said. The waiting list for Patrick Henry generally is the same from year to year, she added.
Last school year, it took $809,000 for the Boys and Girls Club to serve 809 students between the after-school program and summer camp. The operation cost is $972 per student, but the club only charges $25 per student, according to Laurie Wardle, executive director at Boys and Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge.
The operating budget for this school year is $787,800, not including in-kind donations of services, according to Nunn.
The Boys and Girls Club receives funds through 21st Century grants, in-kind donations, local partnerships and grants, community donors and business donors, Nunn said.
To raise money, club staff and officials are getting to know more community donors, applying for more grants and looking for ways to save money such as recruiting volunteers to provide programs instead of paying for outside services, Nunn said.
Also, the summer camp pilot program helped spread the word about the low cost of the program, which got more parents interested, Nunn said.
The programs offered at the Boys and Girls Club are focused on academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. Each day after school, the students get a snack, have one hour of physical activity and do their homework with the help of staff if needed.
The homework help is a “huge factor in why parents are interested in us,” Nunn said.
Having a child in an after-school program is important because most crime among youth occurs between 4 and 6 p.m. An after-school facility ensures that students are not home alone and that they have healthy snacks, help with academics and one-on-one mentoring.
Also, students are “able to interact with other club members and other adults and build those relationships,” Nunn said.