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California leads nation in after-school programs
Third grade student Sandra Reis participates in the Gardening for English Language Learners after-school program at Chatom Elementary School. - photo by Journal file photo
The two to three hours after school lets out and before most parents arrive home from work are the most critical when it comes to school-age children. Those unsupervised hours are when a youth is most likely to get into trouble. Law enforcement, educators and community leaders have for years advocated for after-school programs to give children a positive and construction activity to do between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
“After-school programs are essential for children everywhere. Not only do they keep kids away from gangs, drugs and violence, they boost confidence and self-esteem,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “And that is exactly why I have fought so hard for them here in California.”
California is currently leading the nation in its commitment to after-school programs, according to a statement released by Fight Crime. California provides after-school programs to over 400,000 students each day.
A recent report, “California’s After-School Commitment: Keeping Kids on Track and Out of Trouble,” by Fight Crime shows that California invests over three times more in after-school programs than the other 49 states combined.
Within the Turlock Unified School District, almost all of the schools have an after-school program or they offer clubs for students to participate in after school.
There is after-school tutoring provided at Crowell Elementary, Cunningham Elementary, Dennis Earl Elementary, Medeiros Elementary, Osborn Elementary, Wakefield Elementary, Dutcher Middle, Turlock High, Pitman High and Roselawn High, according to TUSD Interventions/Supplemental Services. Medeiros Elementary also provides a homework club after school with college assistants.
Out of the 15 schools within the TUSD, 11 of those schools provide an after-school program for students.
Schools that offer after-school programs help decrease the amount of youth-related crime, according to Fight Crime.
“We need to do whatever we can to make sure that when kids are out of school, they are out of trouble,” said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, an executive committee member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California. “The best way to keep kids safe and away from crime is to keep them busy with positive activities and surrounded by positive role models.”  
Schools in Stanislaus County provide positive activities for students to participate in after school in over half of the schools in the county, according to the Fight Crime press release. There are over 163 schools within the Stanislaus County with about 57 percent of those schools providing an after-school program. About 66 percent of low-income schools in Stanislaus County provide an after school-program for students, according to the Fight Crime press release.
Even with California leading the country in after-school programs, the Central Valley still has about 197 low-income schools that do not provide after-school programs or activities for their students, according to the Fight Crime.  
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.