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More programs needed – what about the other half day? July 15, 2008

Posted by kindergartenwatch in Resources.
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There are few private or community programs that synch with half-day kindergarten schedules in most districts. This makes it challenging for working parents to find care for the other half-day, especially if extended family does not live in the area.

Some before/after-school programs don’t offer a half-day option. Some don’t serve, or at least pick up, 5-year-olds. Many have waiting lists. Some are outside of the budgets of many working parents. Some districts don’t inform parents whether their child is in morning or afternoon kindergarten until shortly before school starts, making it hard to plan care in advance.

It’s also a tall order to fit around the schedules every day of the week, especially when you throw in an altered schedule one day a week for many districts. This occurs when kids are either let our early or arrive late to enable career development for teachers.

Career development is obviously important, but the inconistent implementation makes scheduling a nightmare. Districts slice and dice this shortened day differently across kindergartens, ranging from cutting programs down to an hour, or cutting them out every other week, and so on.

Some districts view full-day kindergarten as a specialized resource, akin to charter or enrichment programs with limited enrollment, but the comparison isn’t quite the same. If kids don’t win the lottery for specialized programs, they can still attend their neighborhood school for the full day. If families lose the lottery for full-day kindergarten, and can’t find care for the other half day, then the default half-day kindergarten program is not a viable option.

Perhaps school districts can partner with community care providers, such as the YMCA, Boys’ and Girls’ Club, and private childcare providers, to help inform them about the need. When both parents work, housing prices and inflation don’t always enable one parent to quit. It’s stressful for parents to hit wall after wall when seeking childcare, or to worry that they can’t find quality care at all.

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