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City needs more rec leaders for after-school program to continue
Staffing shortage delays PLAY program registration
after school
The City of Turlock is in dire need of recreation leaders for their after-school programs to operate this upcoming fall (Journal file photo).

Amid an unprecedented staffing shortage, the City of Turlock Parks, Recreation & Public Facilities Department was recently forced to delay registration for one of its after-school programs and is in desperate need of applicants interested in working with students. 

As of Thursday, Parks, Recreation & Public Facilities Supervisor Karen Packwood said 30 individuals had been given conditional job offers as Recreation Leaders to oversee the City’s PLAY and ASES programs. Registration for the PLAY program was originally set to open in July, but was delayed this week as more employees need to be hired in order for it to run efficiently. 

“Like other businesses, we are challenged with having to rebuild staff levels, and we are hopeful that fun and professional individuals will step up to help us meet this need,” Packwood said.

The PLAY program takes place on school campuses and staff are responsible for maintaining on-site safety, helping children with homework, coordinating daily activities and more, but both the PLAY program as well as the grant-funded ASES programs were cancelled last year due to the pandemic. With the City unable to offer either program for over a year, many Recreation Leaders sought work elsewhere.

At the end of May, both Turlock Unified School District and Denair Unified School District alerted the City that school would resume in a traditional manner this fall and recruitment for part-time Recreation Leaders began. 

“The Parks, Recreation & Public Facilities Department has never encountered a staffing shortage like we are currently experiencing,” Packwood said. “...We have been receiving approximately 20 interest cards per week, but find that many do not follow through with arriving to their interview or other orientation appointments.”

Packwood explained that since the ASES programs are grant-based, the City has an obligation and responsibility to fill Recreation Leader positions for ASES first with the funding they receive. Though about 50 leaders still need to be hired for both programs to run as planned, Packwood is confident that the ASES programs at Brown, Crowell, Cunningham, Osborn, Wakefield and Turlock Junior High will move forward. The PLAY program’s future depends on if enough leaders are hired. 

Recreation Leaders for the PLAY program make professional connections with other City staff, school staff and administration, and the parents who participate in the after-school program, Packwood said, noting that it’s a great place to work. She encouraged individuals who are energetic, creative, excited to work with youth and have availability after school to apply and become Recreation Leaders. 

The PLAY program takes place from 2:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. Interested individuals can submit an interest card at