By Ashley Rose, Dane County after school program director
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our area in March 2020 shutting schools and sending children home, many parents didn’t know how they would care for their children and go to work. But our staff sprang to action; eager to creatively problem solve how we could offer safe spaces for children. There was little hesitation from these caring and courageous after school staff. We knew that children would need caring adult role models now more than ever before. This work is essential.
This week April 19-23, the nation recognizes these individuals for Afterschool Professional Appreciation Week, organized by the National AfterSchool Association. But celebrating these professionals holds more importance this year because they are the ones who showed up when the world shut down.
“I wasn’t able to work from home like a lot of people. It was really stressful,” says a mom* in Madison, Wisconsin.
Another parent* in Madison adds that he and his wife were trying to decide if she should resign from her job to take care of their kids.
Thanks to after school professionals, neither of these parents had to make the decision between work and childcare.
Since June 2020, Wisconsin Youth Company has opened the doors for nearly 1,000 children. A thousand children who were connected with a caring adult role model, provided academic support, given healthy snacks as nourishment, opportunities to socialize with their peers, and creative outlets with hands-on project–based learning. All of this would not be possible without the meaningful work of our dedicated staff who worked the frontlines.
Please join me in thanking afterschool professionals who have made an impact on our children and community. Thank them for stepping up and putting themselves on the line for the well-being of children.
*Parents’ names left anonymous for privacy.