Archive for December, 2008

AIR QUALITY TESTING!

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

CALL FOR ACTION!
TIME IS RUNNING OUT…

For comments on the proposed indoor air quality regulations that will impact child care centers.The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has proposed new regulations for the testing of indoor air in child care centers.  A brief summary of the proposed regulations is below:Indoor air quality sampling will be required at most child care centers;
The projected cost of conducting the air quality sampling will vary greatly as many have learned from the preliminary assessments; estimates start in the thousands of dollars for an average size center;
A $1,500 fee is proposed to file the results of your initial test with DHSS;
A $450 fee is proposed for renewal if there are no changes in your building or any of your neighbors;
The $1,500 fee applies if there are changes, and the testing must be done again;
The statement of economic impact on the centers filed with the proposed regulations only addresses the filing fee, not the costs of conducting the tests;
The statement of job impact only addresses the centers that might close and the staff at those centers, not how the families who use those centers might be impacted.The New Jersey Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NJACCRRA) has identified the following key talking points.  If you share any of these concerns, please include them in your comments to the Department of Health and Senior Services.Reduce the cost to the centers to file the test results with DHSS;
Determine an appropriate length of time for re-certification of indoor air quality (if it is tied to the renewal of the child care center license, currently every three years; there is proposed legislation to shorten that time period to one year);
It is not feasible for centers serving subsidized or low income families to pass the increased costs to the families they serve, increasing the likelihood that theses centers will be forced to close;
Child care subsidy reimbursements did not include a cost of living increase last year in spite of the increase in operational costs,
The preliminary assessments have added thousands of dollars in expenses to many centers; this will compound those costs;
If these regulations are to protect children, do not set a standard for children in schools that differs from those that govern children in child care centers (the proposed regulations only apply to schools if the school applies for a construction or renovation permit).  Imposing this requirement on centers operating in schools that are not required to do the testing sets up an inappropriate double standard, i.e. children attend during the regular school day, but the after-school program is prohibited from operating in the same building unless it meets air quality standards.

Your child care center will be impacted by these proposed regulations. Now is the time to speak up if you have concerns.  Written comments must be submitted by January 2, 2009, via regular mail to:

Ruth Charbonneau

Director, Office of Legal and Regulatory Affairs

Office of the Commissioner

Department of Health and Senior Services

PO Box 360

Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

After-School Cuts Stir Fears of Kids Home Alone

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

Education Week

Published Online: December 12, 2008
After-School Cuts Stir Fears of Kids Home Alone
By The Associated Press

Columbia, S.C.

Directors of after-school programs around the nation fear the deepening recession will force more children to spend afternoons home alone or on the street as cash-strapped governments slash funding and donations shrink.

Seven Boys & Girls Clubs serving more than 600 children ages 6 to 18 in poor neighborhoods of coastal South Carolina announced plans to close Friday, at least temporarily.

While those programs become early victims of the economic downturn, many of the nation’s 4,300 Boys & Girls programs are trimming hours, consolidating locations and cutting field trips to get by, said Kirk Dominick, an executive vice president with Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

“We’d be crazy to not project a decrease next year. We’re trying to identify the most vulnerable clubs out there,” he said, adding he doesn’t have precise numbers yet. “Some organizations have been struggling for a while.”

The 38 employees of the Boys & Girls Clubs programs that are shuttering in South Carolina will continue to be paid through mid-December. But hopes are high that a push for more donations will allow most of the clubs to reopen in January, said Robert Brunson, board chairman of the affected clubs in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties. Donations from businesses and foundations have been on the decline.

After-school programs of all kinds are hurting nationwide, especially in rural areas, at a time when parents need affordable care more than ever, said Jodi Grant, executive director of Washington-based Afterschool Alliance, which is pushing for federal support.

“Parents are struggling to keep their jobs. They’re taking on second and third jobs. They need a place after school that’s a safe place to go,” Grant said. “What I find most troubling is, programs are doing everything they can, cutting to the bone.”
Safe Haven for Youth

Shawn Anderson, a single, working parent in Charleston, said she is fighting to reopen her daughter’s inner-city club, which began in 1957. She considers the club indispensable, a safe haven for youth. It is among the seven closing Friday.

“The staff really helps these kids,” said Anderson, whose 9-year-old relishes afternoons there. “She’s an only child, very shy. They’ve taught her things I didn’t have time to do. Now she’s an extrovert, and she’s on the honor roll.”

Anderson, 43, said that while she could afford after-school care elsewhere if it comes to that, there are other single parents who can’t.

“Our children will be lost,” she said. “They definitely will resort to the streets.”

The director of South Carolina’s Afterschool Alliance, Zelda Waymer, said she expects more of the state’s after-school programs to close as the economy worsens. Programs for poor parents depend on state money and fundraising, she said.

In South Carolina’s case, projected tax collections have plummeted some $1 billion since the summer, and nonprofits aren’t expecting the state to help. The Legislature eliminated $1.3 million to Boys & Girls Clubs statewide.

“The drastic downfall in the economy has touched everyone,” Waymer said. “Before, we could turn to foundations and businesses, but businesses are closing and stocks are down.”

With more kids out on the streets after school, she warned of unintended consequences: The “crime rate will go up. Gang violence will increase.”

Judy Nee, president and chief executive of the Washington-based National Afterschool Association, said many of her member programs are reporting shrinking enrollment as parents can no longer afford to pay, making it harder to provide quality educational activities. Children in the fourth grade and higher are being left at home by parents who figure it’s OK for a few hours, she said.

“We’ve come a long way in this field,” Nee said. “I’m hoping we can mitigate and get through this relatively quickly.”

Other organizations are managing to get by, though.

Greg Tolbert, president of 12 Boys & Girls Clubs in northwestern South Carolina, said grants and increased donations from residents have allowed those clubs to add 50 children in the last year. A club on the brink of closing last summer was taken over by the school district to keep it open.

“God’s taken care of us,” Tolbert said. “People are realizing the need is greater and they’re giving.”

Dear Afterschool FLASH Readers,

The article above appeared in Education Week this week, and as a follow up, Judy Nee, President of NAA( National Afterschool Association) has been contacted by CNN, CBS Radio and Hearst Television Stations.

The impact of the economy on afterschool programs is getting national public attention. On Wednesday, she will be participating in a taping of a story on this issue in Washignton, DC. It will air on 25 national television stations. They are interested in how the economic downturn is affecting the numbers of children and youth staying at home alone, as well as the affect of budget cuts on afterschool programs. In addition, they are wondering what we might expect with the upcoming holiday breaks.

IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION FROM YOUR NETWORK, LOCAL PROGRAMS OR STAFF – I WOULD BE HAPPY TO SHARE IT IN THE TV TAPING. ANY STORIES, DECLINING NUMBERS IN PROGRAM ATTENDANCE AND CANCELLED OR OTHERWISE NEGATIVELY IMPACTED HOLIDAY CAMPS AND PROGRAMS WILL BE HELPFUL.
Please send at the latest ,the end of the day, December 16th.

Thanks you,
Judy Nee
NAA President
jnee@naaweb.org

Americans Want Schools to Take Recess Seriously

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Great information – to help you secure support for being part of Celebrate Afterschool ! Outdoors in The Garden State

Americans Want Schools to Take Recess Seriously
New poll reveals that parents see school playground as key to helping kids stay physically active, focused in the classroom.

Americans overwhelmingly believe that schools have a major role to play in advancing the health of our nation’s kids, and they are specifically concerned about the lack of recess and physical activity in schools, according to new polling results released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Sports4Kids, a national nonprofit that brings safe and healthy playtime to low-income elementary schools.

This survey represents the most up-to-date overview of public attitudes on recess in schools and helps to explain the growing momentum of public support to make play and physical activity an essential part of the school day. It also reveals that Americans intuitively understand the critical relationship between our health and where and how we live, work, learn and play, and that the physical and social environment in our schools have an outsized impact on the health of our kids.

“All Americans increasingly understand that if we want to improve the health and well-being of our children, especially those in low-income communities, we have to reach them where they are already living and learning,” explained James Marks, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice president and director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Group. “The fact that kids spend so much of their lives at school and on the playground offers one of our best chances to help children develop into healthy, active adults who know how to work together and resolve conflicts. Those are life skills every child in America needs to learn.”

Some key findings from the survey include:

Nearly four out of five parents believe that children aren’t getting enough physical playtime on a daily basis.
Seven out of 10 Americans disagree with schools’ policies of eliminating or reducing recess time for budgetary, safety or academic reasons.
An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that recess serves many important functions for both students and teachers. For example, 91 percent believe that having a break with physical activity helps children stay focused and learn in the classroom.
Nine in 10 agree that schools should be responsible for ensuring that children partake in a healthy amount of physical activity during the school day.
Over 82 percent of Midwesterners believe children are getting less than enough physical playtime on a daily basis, compared to 76 percent of the rest of the country.
Southerners are particularly concerned about cuts to recess, which is not surprising given that schools in that region are most likely to scale back or eliminate recess compared to other U.S. regions.
The Northeast and Midwest are most unhappy with recent bans in school yard games such as tag and dodgeball—three out of four adults in each region disagree with these changes.
“Americans intuitively understand that a well-managed recess can have a positive impact on many important parts of a child’s life by making physical activity fun and helping kids learn better,” said Jill Vialet, president of Sports4Kids. “After 13 years on America’s playgrounds, we see firsthand the positive impact an inclusive recess has on individual children who may not otherwise have a safe place to play, as well on the overall school climate. The benefit is tremendous.”

This survey of American attitudes toward school playtime follows Recess Rules, a 2007 report issued by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that named recess as the single most effective—yet the most underfunded—strategy for increasing physical activity among children.

The new findings come at a time when many schools and school districts are making the difficult choice of cutting back on recess to make more time for standardized test preparation, as outlined in a report issued this fall by the Center for Public Education. Cutbacks to recess tend to be concentrated in schools serving the highest number of minority students or students in poverty, making underserved children the least likely to get this valuable playtime. Consider the following recent examples:

In Georgia, one third of Bibb County’s elementary schools—all of which overwhelmingly serve low-income, African-American student populations—lack recess altogether. This is in part because of a lack of playground equipment, but largely because they are struggling to meet testing goals under No Child Left Behind.
An elementary school in West Brookfield, Mass., recently decided to replace its 15 minute outdoor recess period with an indoor working snack period. The decision prompted a group of unhappy parents to voice their concerns at a regional school committee meeting.
Schools in Okaloosa County, Fla., eliminated recess for a number of reasons including safety concerns and a lack of space—much of the school playground has been taken up by portables that allow the school to provide smaller class sizes.
The good news is that many school districts and states across the country—including Virginia, Connecticut and Wisconsin—require schools to set aside time for recess and playtime on a regular basis, and that list is growing each year. Arizona, New Jersey, Illinois, South Carolina and Washington are just a few of the states that have proposed legislation.

The poll was conducted by Kelton Research on behalf of Sports4Kids between September 25 and September 29, 2008. A total of 1,000 U.S. adults (ages 18 and over) were polled for this survey.

——————————————————————————–

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.

Sports4Kids
Sports4Kids is a national nonprofit that has pioneered an effective model for using play to transform the learning environment at elementary schools serving America’s minority and low-income children. Sports4Kids puts trained coaches on the playground to introduce classic games that are disappearing from schoolyards, like kickball and four square, as well as new games designed to build leadership and foster teamwork. They currently bring safe and healthy playtime to 170 schools in seven cities nationwide, serving 65,000 students daily, and they plan to expand into more than 600 schools in 27 cities by 2012. For more information visit www.sports4kids.org.

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2009 Mini Grant Applications on Line Now!

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

NJSACC is excited to announce that we will be offering $2000 grants for program improvement to 15 afterschool programs throughout the state.

The programs must be licensed through the NJ Department of Children and Families Office of Licensing.

Please download all the forms below to apply. Make sure that you carefully read all the information and fill out all the forms completely before submitting your application!

To download all forms go to :
http://www.njsacc.org/providers/grants.php

Plan now ! Celebrate Outdoors in the Garden State!

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Learn and Explore in New Jersey’s “Secret Garden”

Rutgers Gardens on the Cook Campus at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a 180 acre outdoor teaching classroom, horticultural research facility and arboretum.

Beginning in the Spring of 2009 Rutgers Gardens welcomes the Afterschool Community for fun and exciting hands on exploration field trips for early dismissal days, school closings and holiday and summer camp programs. The program, geared towards school age children (K-8th grade) consists of activities focused on the great outdoors.
For more information please visit http://rutgersgardens.rutgers.edu/afterschoolprogram.htm

or call Mary Ann Schrum at 732.932.8451
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