I believe every Vermont community and family should have access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs for their children, and the expanded learning opportunities bill (H.391) is a great step toward this goal. Expanded learning opportunities keep kids safe, inspire learning, and support working families – but they do far more than that.
For 15 years I worked at Community Connections which provides expanded learning opportunities for Montpelier, East Montpelier, Calais, Middlesex, Berlin and Worcester. “Andrew” started attending when he was in kindergarten. His dad is a single parent who works as a nurse for the state. Dad often said that without Community Connections’ before and afterschool programs he would not be able to work. As a way to give back to the community, he volunteered to watch the children at town meeting. Andrew is now in 10th grade and likes to help out with middle school programs. We have been sponsoring the summer food program for several years. Each year we serve more and more children, with hundreds of breakfasts and lunches served each year. All the kids who come for meals also participate in the school district’s summer school or our summer camps – more than 100 per day!
The need is high for expanded learning opportunities for our youth in Vermont, and the cost of doing nothing will be even higher than the cost of providing these programs. It is my hope that all Vermont legislators will support H.391. Afterschool programs are an integral part of Vermont’s education system and we need to make sure that they are fully utilized and sustainable.