The chairs of the state House After School Caucus, Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler and Doyle Heffley, visited two after-school programs last week as part of their After-School Program Tour.
On May 11, the caucus co-chairs toured South Philly’s Southwark Elementary School’s after-school program, facilitated by Sunrise of Philadelphia. They were joined by Philadelphia Councilmember Mark Squilla and members from Sunrise. Fiedler explained how the program exemplifies her goals as co-chair of the After-School Caucus.
“I am fighting for dedicated, recurring funding from the state for after-school programs. At a time of increasing violence, we need to invest in high-quality out-of-school-time programs that provide young people with safe places,” Fiedler said. “The skilled professionals that run these programs are so underpaid and under-appreciated that they often can’t afford to stay in the profession. We must do better for our young people.”
The benefits of after-school programs go beyond individual students, Fiedler said.
“Studies show that for every $1 invested in out-of-school-time programs in the commonwealth, there is a positive $6.69 return on investment for participants and communities combined.”
On Tuesday, May 9, the caucus co-chairs visited Palmerton, Carbon County to tour the SHINE program. Heffley has touted the success of SHINE as an example of an after-school program that focuses on hands-on learning.
“After-school programs, like the SHINE Program in Carbon County, focus on hands-on learning, helping students with homework and after-school projects,” Heffley said.
Fiedler commended the program, saying, “SHINE gives students the opportunity outside of school hours to develop, be creative and receive mentoring. These are important for young people across the commonwealth, no matter their ZIP code.”
Heffley remarked on the program’s merging of academic goals and creativity, saying, “We want students to be supported academically, but also creatively.”