COVINGTON, Ky. (WKRC) - Schools are out and some kids will soon start attending summer-learning programs.
After the pandemic, the demand grew even more as parents hope they can help combat mental health issues. A Kentucky organization is trying to add and improve programs.
Learning doesn't end at the beginning of summer break. Director of Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance Tom Haggard thinks summer learning is when kids feel a spark.
“Afterschool and summer-learning programs give kids that safe space to try something new. Maybe they don’t think they can be an artist, but maybe they dropped into an art club,” he said.
After the pandemic, Haggard points to a big rise in signups. For every child placed in a program, the parents of four more wish they had a spot.
“It’s because parents know they are a safe and welcoming space for their kids. Not only to maybe get their homework done after school, but also keep learning throughout the summer,” Haggard said.
The cost and availability of programs are two of the main barriers. Covington Schools Director of Community & Family Engagement Stacie Strotman said the district is making a strong effort to keep summer programming for kindergarten through 12th grade.
“Last year, we saw a little over 1,000 students attend our programming at least once. Our average daily attendance was around 850,” she said.
That's up from about 500 in previous years as the district starts to support social-emotional learning. It's an important piece to combat mental health struggles. This is the second summer school counselors will be on hand.
“They are doing small groups with students. They might meet one on one with a student who is struggling with specific issues,” Strotman said.
Creating a safe space for students and peace of mind for families.
“When they come to our program, they are getting breakfast and lunch. They're getting a full day of activities. That's another factor of mental health I think sometimes we don't think about,” she added.
Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance plans to collaborate with school districts going into the fall. It will help find ways to better spend American Rescue Plan Act dollars to support afterschool or summer-learning programs.