After-school programs in rural areas face particular challenges that can stand in the way of their success. But creative strategies are available that can help such programs thrive, according to a recent report from Child Trends, a Washington-based research organization.
Many out-of-school programs in remote areas serve a high percentage of disadvantaged children, face struggles in providing transportation, and are less likely than programs in metropolitan areas to have staff members who are trained specifically to work in an after-school program, the report says.
“Low population density, a less-educated workforce, and limited financial resources make recruiting and securing trained staff difficult in some rural communities,” according to the brief.
The authors recommend that after-school directors recruit public school teachers to work in their programs, recruit retirees from the community, and provide training to improve retention.
Featured in the June 12 report is Generacion Diez, an after-school program targeting the children of migrant workers in Adams County, Pa. The program seeks staff members who share ethnic and cultural characteristics with participants. Staff members then have a greater commitment to seeing the students succeed, according to the program’s administrators.
The report urges after-school program providers to form partnerships with officials in charge of public transportation services. These departments can donate vehicles, provide drivers, transport students, or even train after-school program staff members to drive buses or vans.
Altering school bus routes can also help fill transportation needs if the program is held at a school site or somewhere along a route.
Finally, the authors recommend that program operators reach out to organizations such as private foundations, corporations, and even individuals, as potential funding sources. Discounts on rent or utility costs can also help programs operate more successfully.
A version of this article appeared in the July 16, 2008 edition of Education Week