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After-school programs are key to development

The March 10 Another Voice, “Cuomo and de Blasio pre-K plans should both be enacted,” makes excellent points about the importance of funding pre-K programs, but the writers neglected to elaborate on another common factor in the two proposals. That is, the need for more after-school programs.

After-school programs in Buffalo and across New York State keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. After-school programs complement and supplement, but don’t replicate, the learning that takes place during the school day and provide students with the social and emotional learning and leadership opportunities necessary to succeed.

Sadly, there are far fewer high-quality after-school programs than working families need. Thankfully Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal would vastly increase the number of children served statewide by funding programming for an additional 100,000 students. This funding could meet some of the needs of children and families in Buffalo, and would be a great first step at addressing the need for 1.1 million more children to have after-school programming throughout the state.

As The News has previously reported, Buffalo has some outstanding programs. Collaborations between local providers, the school system, local funders and Say Yes continue to seek ways to create after-school opportunities for more students. Additional state funding could be an important component of a communitywide plan.

After years of budget cuts, hearing our state’s top leaders agree on increasing funding for after-school programs and other supports for our children’s education is a welcome change.

Nora Niedzielski-Eichner

Executive Director

New York State After-school Network