With summer fading away and the school year in full swing, parents and caregivers again have decisions to make about how to care for their children after school. While there are many options for parents and their kids, finding the right one to match the academic, social and practical needs of families can be challenging. Luckily, this year there is help accessing hundreds of programs to find the one that is right for you.
The Children's Trust, Jewish Community Services (JCS), Miami-Dade County and Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) have partnered to create the More After-School Choices Initiative that gives access to all of their after-school programs in one easily accessible website, 211Miami.org/AfterSchool. The Trust-funded Jewish Community Services (JCS) 211 Miami Helpline lists more than 500 after-school programs alphabetically and parents can also search for programs by their location.
The extensive list of after-school programs means that thousands of families looking for options can visit a single website or just make a call to 211, to find a solution for their after-school needs. Last year, nearly 27,000 children actively participated in Trust-funded after-school, summer, and youth enrichment programs, experiencing the transformative impact of these offerings firsthand.
The after-school initiative builds on the success of the similarly titled More Summer Camp Choices Initiative created earlier this year among the same partner organizations. That initiative turned out to be a resounding success with online inquiries at the JCS 211 Miami Helpline increasing from 200 in the previous summer to 36,000 searches this year. Calls into the JCS 211 Miami Helpline looking for summer camp programs also increased by more than 40% thanks to the initiative.
"The Children's Trust recognizes the essential needs of working parents, and a safe and enriching after-school program for their children is one of the most important. This initiative helps families find the best after-school option for them, all in one place," said The Children's Trust President & CEO James R. Haj.
Miami-Dade County and M-DCPS officials agreed.
"Investing in our children is investing in our community's future," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. "As families struggle with rising costs, making sure their children have access to after-school opportunities to learn or develop new skills should not be an additional concern. We are proud to join this effort to help families take advantage of everything our community has to offer and to help our children thrive."
"By coming together, we have the incredible opportunity to elevate the after-school experience for our students, enriching their lives beyond the classroom," said Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jose L. Dotres.
Ultimately, it is the children and families of Miami-Dade who will reap the most benefits from this new initiative. Octavia Adderley, a parent whose child is partaking in Belafonte TACOLCY's after-school program, one of the many listed on the 211 Miami Helpline website, remarked, "This has been a game-changer for our family. The convenient access to a high-quality after-school program helps my child thrive in areas they're passionate about, while offering me peace of mind as a working parent."
For more information or to access all the after-school programs, visit 211Miami.org/AfterSchool or dial 211 from anywhere in Miami-Dade County.