Demand for after-school programs high, survey says

Mar. 17—For every Hoosier child in an after-school program, three more children are waiting to get in, according to 2020 national survey called America after 3 p.m.

The study is conducted by the national Afterschool Alliance.

"The demand in Indiana right now has never been higher," said Derrick Carnes, director of communications for the Indiana Afterschool Network (IAN), which provides support and resources for out-of-school time programs.

Barriers might relate to geography and transportation or fees to attend those programs.

"We're working to increase access to all kinds of programs for every kid in Indiana," Carnes said. "Our vision is that every child has access to a program if they want one."

Carnes and Andrea Gerig, also of IAN, were in Terre Haute Friday at the Terre Haute First Baptist Church to address a group that included youth leaders, after-school providers, elected officials and Vigo County School Corp. officials.

Carnes and Gerig shared information on the importance of out-of-school programming and the free resources the network can provide.

They came at the invitation of Eleanor Ramseier, executive director of the local Camp Navigate program, Carnes said.

The statewide network serves after- or before-school programs as well as summer camps, or any kind of expanded learning opportunities that happen outside the traditional school day.

The agency provides professional development for staff, conferences and personal coaching, and it assists agencies pursuing funding sources that might include grants from foundations, corporations or state government.

"We'll provide information about it (funding sources) and how to apply," Carnes said.

It also has an annual conference and provides agencies with opportunities to network and share ideas.

After-school programs are "incredibly important," Carnes said. Research points to "really great outcomes that can come from expanded learning opportunities for kids."

Those outcomes include better grades, school attendance and behavior as well as a higher interest in learning.

After-school programs can help kids explore interests that pave the way for college and career success later on, he said.

Ramseier, who serves on the IAN public policy committee, said the gathering was aimed at making local agencies and community leaders aware of what the state group has to offer.

IAN shares its resources at no cost to local groups that provide after-school programming.

"I'm passionate about the Indiana Afterschool Network and all the things they can offer, and I just don't think people are aware of what kinds of resources we have out there for them," she said.

Also speaking Friday was Mayor Duke Bennett, who said the topic of child care and after-school care frequently comes up in discussion with businesses and industries looking to address workforce issues.

"One of the downfalls I see in our community is that there are just not enough spaces, not enough places" to accommodate the need for child care and after-school care, he said.

He praised the work of local organizations and churches that work to address those needs.

While government can't solve everything, "We have to find a way to support all of you and find ways to solidify and strengthen child care opportunities," Bennett said.

Other government entities, including county commissioners, also want to assist, he said.

"There are resources coming that we've never had before. I think there are some things we can do to bolster this," Bennett said.

Amy Lore, Vigo County School Board president, described agencies providing that out-of-school care as "connecting tissue" supporting families.

She thanked them for helping prepare the next generation of leaders.

For more information on the Indiana Afterschool Network, go to

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue