BEND, OR -- The Boys and Girls Clubs of Bend plans to open a record-number of slots for after-school programs, this fall. Executive Director Juliana Williams says it’s in response to Bend-La Pine Schools shifting start times, which will send elementary kids home an hour earlier than last year and before older siblings who often serve as afternoon babysitters, "A lot of parents could work it out to pick up their kids at 3:30, but now at 2:30 they can’t get off work that early to pick up their children. So, we’re expecting more kids needing care in that after school time." She tells KBND News, "Given that we do serve from five to 18, we serve a lot of younger elementary students, and so we’re increasing our staffing to be able to take on more kids. We’re adding about an hour of programming to that group, and overall, just trying to ensure that we can be here to meet the need."
Registration must be done in-person and begins at the end of this month; Williams suggests families visit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bend website beforehand, to get familiar with the process. "We have families that have been relying on us for years, so we’re doing and early priority registration for our current club families on July 29. That is a limited number of spots that we will hold for that period; we’ll continue that on the 30th and 31st. And then, on August first, we will open up additional spots to the community at large, knowing there are new families that are going to be seeking after-school care at the Boys and Girls Club." She adds, "What we’re trying to do is offer as many families as possible who are already a part of the club to get that early registration. But, we wanted to make sure that we didn’t come to the community on August first and say, ‘hey; we’re already full'." She’s hesitant to put an exact number on openings but expects it will be the first time they'll have to cap enrollment in their after-school program.
In May, Bend Parks and Recreation opened registration for its Kids Inc. after-school program for the 2019-20 school year; most sites filled in the first 10 minutes of registration. Williams says Parks & Rec and the Boys & Girls Clubs have the same goal of making sure kids are cared for, "Since I took my role as Executive Director two months ago of the Boys and Girls Club, I’ve been meeting with other community leaders at Parks & Rec and some of the other after-school programs, reaching out and coordinating our efforts. I think as we all adapt to this change in our community, we’re going to be even more coordinated so that it’s simplified for parents as they seek after-school care."