Legislation to add afterschool programs promoted

DOVER — New legislation would increase the number of after-school programs in the state, allowing students to receive homework help and, officials hope, keeping them off the streets.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, would create a program to provide grants to high-need schools. Schools would have to offer three or more hours of after-school activities at least four days a week for students in kindergarten to 10th grade. Programs would provide a minimum of one hour of homework assistance and one hour of activities, along with a meal. Initial funding of $10 million is recommended.

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Valerie Longhurst

“We know that quality after-school programs keep kids engaged, boost attendance and enhance literacy, improving the likelihood that our students will stay in school and earn their diplomas,” Rep. Longhurst said. “We have a great core of organizations in our communities that have spent years showing us these outcomes, and it’s time for the state and our school districts to step up and bring these proven practices to even more kids throughout Delaware.”

A 2014 parent survey from the Afterschool Alliance found more than 26,000 Delaware students take part in after-school programs.

Many children or teenagers are left alone for several hours after the school day and may turn to or become victims of crime, a statement cited by proponents of the programs.

“Quality after-school programs are important for helping kids learn and grow and for keeping kids away from people and places that might lead them down a bad path,” said Attorney General Matt Denn, a Democrat. “They show kids that people care about them and they help make neighborhoods and communities safer.”

The bill will be filed next week and will be assigned to the House Education Committee.

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