After School Program Looks for Staff - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

After School Program Looks for Staff

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Having a safe place for students to go before and after school is especially helpful when parents work outside of a normal school schedule. Programs like the Missouri River Educational Cooperative (MREC) offer before and after school care, but with more students in the schools, fewer spots are available for the programs.

MREC serves four school districts, private and public schools. State guidelines require one youth coordinator for every 20 students, MREC shrunk the ratio to one staff member for every fifteen students, but they're having trouble finding enough staff members to meet that ratio.

Federal grant money has been funding the MREC program for more than five years. And each year, the number of students applying to the program grows as well as the challenge of finding enough staff to watch them.  

"It takes away a feel from the kids being able to have more interaction with adults, but granted, they still have that safe place to go. And they know the drill," says site coordinator Calli Heinemeyer.

MREC had to put more than 40 students on waiting lists across the districts at the beginning of the school year.

School Extension Coordinator Alicia Bohl says youth coordinators are paid well, and only have to work a few hours after school. But there aren't enough to go around.
 
"I was rear ended in the morning, at 6:30, on my way to work. And I tried calling the school and no one was at the school. So, I had to call one of my staff members, and he was fortunate enough to get there, and be there for the kids," says Heinemeyer. "And that is the most, I didn't even care about my vehicle, the damage, I just wanted to make sure that somebody was there to be with the kids."

As a parent whose child was put on the waiting list, but was lucky enough to get back into the program, Ann Haag says it's not just up to MREC to fix this problem. Parents need to get involved.

"Whether it's the schools or the after school programs, or what not. So get involved and not just take it for granted like I did," says Haag. "And ask them, what can we do to help the program?"

Because helping the program cuts down on the number of latchkey kids, and gives parents some much needed peace of mind.

MREC staff members say since they're funded by the government, there are a few more steps to applying for the job, but it's all worth it. To find out more information visit http://mrecnd.org/.

 

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