Proposals would expand after-school care for middle schoolers

Proposals would expand after-school care for middle schoolers

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After-school care is pretty common for elementary school kids.

But when kids get to middle school, far fewer participate in after-school programs.

Some 16 Hawaii public schools are trying to change that, as part of an innovative program aimed at engaging primarily low-income kids after school

The REACH pilot program kicked off in 2014, and lawmakers are now interested in making it permanent with general funds.

REACH stands for resources for enrichment, athletics, culture and health, and it's designed to give middle school students a place to be engaged and active after school.

"Substance abuse, teen pregnancy, a lot of that occurs at that time," said state Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, who strongly supports the program.

Jarrett Middle School Principal Reid Kuba said he's already seen the positive effects of the program, and supports the bid to make it full time.

"This is where they're developing the most, their brains are developing, their body is developing, they're learning how to control their emotions and work with each other, so it's crucial," he said.

Kids give the program good reviews, too.

"My favorite thing about this program is homework hour because we get to do a lot of homework to improve our grades," said eighth-grader Cole Rapoza.

Several bills moving through the Legislature would make the program permanent. One idea: Rather than relying solely on general fund money, the program would charge parent's a fee.

But there are some concerned about the program's funding needs.

"The parents and taxpayers that I talk to, they're concerned that we're taking more resources out of the classroom and loading them on before school, after school," said state Sen. Sam Slom.

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