New Afterschool Program Dollars Available for Ohio Families

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click to enlarge An estimated 814,000 Ohio kids would be enrolled in an after school program if these activities were available to them. - (Adobe Stock)
(Adobe Stock)
An estimated 814,000 Ohio kids would be enrolled in an after school program if these activities were available to them.

Nearly six in 10 parents in a recent poll said they are more worried about their child's emotional well-being than they were before the pandemic.

Eligible Ohio families have a new opportunity to access activities to help improve kids' social connections and build life skills. The Ohio Afterschool Child Enrichment (ACE) program is an educational savings account, with a $500 credit families can use to pay for enrichment activities to help bridge pandemic learning gaps.

Michele Ritchlin, executive director of the Ohio Afterschool Network, said the list of possibilities is vast.

"Before or after-school educational programs, day camps, tuition at a learning extension center; tuition for learning pods; study skill services; things like languages classes, instrumental lessons, tutoring; field trips to historical landmarks, museums, science centers, theaters," Ritchlin outlined.

The program is open to students ages six to 18 whose household income is up to 300% of the federal poverty level, which is $79,500 for a family of four.

The governor set aside federal CARES Act dollars to fund the program for this year and next. Ritchlin explained cost and transportation are barriers for many families, so the unmet demand for after school care in Ohio is high.

"Eighty percent of their learning occurs outside of the school day," Ritchlin pointed out. "So what happens outside of school is as important as what happens inside school. And in Ohio, for every one child in a program, there are five waiting to get in. And that's an astonishing number."

Nine in 10 Ohio parents surveyed said they are satisfied with their child's after school program, with a majority agreeing the activities help build life skills and confidence, reduce risky behaviors and keep ki
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