I believe every Vermont community and family should have access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs for their children and dedicated state funding for afterschool and summer programs is a great step toward this goal.
I am a fourth generation Vermonter and single parent with a good, full-time job. I was the first person in my family to go to college, and I’ll be the first to get my degree. Having grown up poor and now raising my children on a single income I know, intimately, the desperate, anxious, gnawing feelings that living below the poverty line curse a person with. Afterschool and summer learning programs offer families like mine a brief reprieve from the worries of poverty. I can focus on work knowing that my children are in a safe, structured environment rather than worrying about them “running the streets”. I can find comfort in knowing that my financial woes are NOT going to prevent my children from receiving the same learning opportunities and experiences as their peers during the out-of-school time hours. And, I can get through my days with the bright burning hope that these opportunities will lead them to work even harder than I have to be successful in this world.
Young Vermonters are our future, they will inherit this place, so why would we not give them every opportunity to shine and succeed? That’s why we need to increase access in order to ensure that all kids and families can benefit from high-quality afterschool and expanded learning programs. More expanded learning programs would help support our working families, reduce the achievement gap, and increase opportunities for children and youth to be successful.