Out-of-School Programs Help WA Kids

Washington state is improving programs for kids after school and in the summer, according to a report to the Legislature, which agreed to help fund them. When programs are properly funded and work right, they can improve children’s academic, social and emotional abilities and even help them develop the skills they’ll use in their future careers. The University of Washington’s “Cultivate Learning” report found one key to making the state’s Expanded Learning Opportunities Quality Initiative better is more coaching and training for staff.

 

Sheely Mauck is with School’s Out Washington, one of the groups supporting the initiative. Washington state is improving programs for kids after school and in the summer, according to a report to the Legislature, which agreed to help fund them. When programs are properly funded and work right, they can improve children’s academic, social and emotional abilities and even help them develop the skills they’ll use in their future careers. The University of Washington’s “Cultivate Learning” report found one key to making the state’s Expanded Learning Opportunities Quality Initiative better is more coaching and training for staff. Sheely Mauck is with School’s Out Washington, one of the groups supporting the initiative.

“The adult-youth relationships are relationships that young people carry with them when they’re struggling, or when they’re encountering situations with other peers and they’re having to make decisions on their own. All of that makes a big difference and so, investing in the adults that are working with our young people is absolutely critical.”

 

The state’s initiative supports 50 programs across Washington with the help of matching funds from the Raikes (“rakes”) Foundation. The Department of Early Learning, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Child Care Aware of Washington also partner on the initiative.

 

The report says under-served communities are getting a lot from these programs. More than half the children participate in free or reduced-price lunch programs at school, one in ten is an English-Language learner, and about one in eight has special needs. Mauck says this year, programs are emphasizing social and emotional learning, and one of the skills they teach is mindfulness.

 

“In the age of screens everywhere and constant activity, helping young people to be able to check in with themselves, learn some breathing strategies and techniques when they’re stressed out or feeling anxiety. Being able to recognize when they’re anxious and then, employ those mindfulness techniques.”

 

The state Legislature has appropriated 750-thousand dollars in the 2018 budget to keep the program going. The report is online at ‘sparkwindmovement.org.’

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