Archive | September, 2011

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Renews Partnership with Florida Afterschool Network 2011

21 Sep

The Florida Afterschool Network (FAN) is proud to announce that its proposal for third funding cycle from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has been approved. The project period runs from October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2014.

Grant foundation awards Florida Afterschool Network $569,000
By Ashley Ames
Democrat staff writer

Larry Pintacuda’s voice takes on a certain urgency when he discusses the importance of after-school programs in Florida.

“Kids in quality after-school programs do better in school, there is less teen pregnancy, drop-out rates are reduced,” he said.

“I’m passionate about kids. It’s been my whole life,” said Pintacuda, executive director of the Florida Afterschool Network. “I’ve seen how these kids come in (to after-school programs) and develop and become great kids.”

FAN works to advocate for and improve after-school programs statewide. That comes in the form of securing funding from the Legislature for those programs, developing and updating what qualifies as quality after-school care, and, most recently, partnering with state colleges to develop official certification for after-school practitioners — including at the college level.

Pintacuda announced Monday that the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation — a Michigan-based grant-making organization centered on community and environmental improvement — approved FAN’s proposal for funding. The foundation, which has supported FAN since the network’s inception in 2005, will give the nonprofit $569,000 over the next three years, Pintacuda said. FAN will then match that amount by a dollar and a half, much of which will come from the United Way of Florida, the Florida After School Alliance, the Florida Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs and other organizations. FAN operates on about $180,000 a year, Pintacuda said.

FAN’s mission also comes to life through the collaboration of partners across the state, including former Miami Herald publisher David Lawrence, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D- Fla., and Frank Brogan, chancellor of the State University System. This networking, which also includes FAN’s board of directors, helps the non-profit achieve its goal, Pintacuda said.

“These are all people who are passionate about after-school programs, who will help us try to sell the importance of after-school programs,” he said.

Pintacuda said the importance of after-school programs could be seen by simply looking at the numbers. In Florida, 750,000 students spend an average of 15 hours a week unsupervised after school lets out, he said. He said that from 2 to 6 p.m., kids are most likely to become victims of violent crime, be killed in a car accident or other accident, experiment with drugs and engage in sexual activities.

“Our mission is to ensure that every kid has an opportunity to participate in a quality after-school program,” Pintacuda said. The awarding of the funding will further that goal.
“It will allow us to continue to push for quality after-school programs in this state,” he said.

The Children’s Forum, a Tallahassee-based nonprofit that works to improve services for children and families, is one of FAN’s partners. Jenna Jacobsen-Brown, Children’s Forum communications and membership services director, agreed with the need for quality after-school care.

“Research shows that children in after-school programs are less likely to commit crimes, less likely to do drugs,” she said. “FAN is one vehicle that can express why quality after-school programs are so important for children in Florida.”

How To Pick the Right Afterschool Program?

4 Sep

Unfortunately, not every afterschool program is created equal. Because of that, it is crucial for parents to do their homework and pick the program that is right for their children.

First step: talk with your kids about what they are interested in. Let’s be honest, kids interest change all the time, so find out what sports they like, are they into music or art, or what about languages? Make a list of what they would want to do afterschool.

After you select a couple programs that match up with your children’s interests, it is time to go to work on researching the programs and their staff. The quality of staff is critical to the overall quality of the program.  You will want to make sure that all staff is screened by the FBI and local law enforcement and that all have had CPR and first aid training.

Then ask about the credentials of the staff – what degrees and certifications do they hold? Ask about staff experience and education in early childhood/school-age care, recreation and, if needed, serving children with special needs.

You also want to ask about the child/staff ratio. Florida’s maximum staff-to-child ratio for school-age children is 1-to-25. National quality standards recommend between 1-to-8 and 1-to-15 for children age 5-teens, and group sizes no larger than 30. You want to ensure that your child is being attended to at all times and get one-on-one time.

Now that you have narrowed down your list, plan a visit. Every program should welcome parents to come and tour the facilities. The same is true when you enroll your child in the program. Ask to see a lesson plan. Quality programs provide more than continuous free play. Plans should be consistent with the philosophy of the program and should include indoor, outdoor, quiet, active, staff-planned, child-initiated and free choice activities.

Bring your child with you to the tour. Although you as the parent want to be happy with the program and facility, more importantly, your child needs to be happy with it. This should be a joint decision, so make your child as part of the process as possible.

Remember, do your homework and find a program that has a quality staff and is best in line with your child’s interests.

Florida Afterschool Network’s Larry Pintacuda Featured on The Children’s Trust 2011

4 Sep

Florida Afterschool Network Executive Director Larry Pintacuda was a recent guest on The Children’s Trust speaking about the mission of the Florida Afterschool Network.

He is the second guest in this segment.

© 2011 – The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County

The Children’s Trust emphasizes collaboration and partnership in order to provide the programs and services needed by children and families and to effect community-wide change. As we have since our inception, The Children’s Trust encourages creative approaches to coordinating, integrating and funding services across and within the areas of health, safety, development and to promote increased parental and community involvement on behalf of all our children, while stressing accountability and results.