Report to Legislature: Out-of-school programs help state kids

By Eric Tegethoff
Washington News Service

SEATTLE — Washington state is improving programs for children afterschool and in the summer, according to a report to the Legislature, which agreed to help fund the programs.

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 improving the state’s Expanded Learning Opportunities Quality Initiative is more coaching and training for staff.

“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,” says Sheely Mauck, expanded learning opportunities quality manager at School’s Out Washington, one of the groups supporting the initiative.

“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 Foundation.

The Department of Early Learning, the 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, 1 in 10 is an English Language learner, and about 1 in 8 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,” she states. “Being able to recognize when they’re anxious and then, employ those mindfulness techniques.”

The State Legislature has appropriated $750,000 in the 2018 budget to keep the program going.


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