$1.9 million alotted to Delaware after-school programs
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 17:09
A new $1.9 million grant issued at the end of August will be directed toward programs that provide after-school and summer youth prevention program.
The aim of the grant, which is being issued by the Department of Services to Children, Youth and their Families, is to encourage the establishment of programs that will surround children with a positive learning environment, according to the official press release. The Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services will be in charge of dispensing the money to groups, agencies and organizations whose applications are accepted.
The programs will primarily aim to divert children from violence and suicide. Those whose programs are accepted will have to participate in training sessions that will educate them about the prevention of these acts. Another priority for the programs is to educate children in the areas of academic, cultural, artistic, agricultural and nature, according to the press release.
Daphne Warner, director of prevention at the DSCYF, said the key to keeping children out of trouble and off of the streets is to engage them in these programs. In addition, if the programs can make children want to learn at this young age, it will help them in the future and allow them to resist the temptation to drop out of school.
“We want to keep children interested in other activities because a lot of times children get into negative behaviors, because they really don’t have anything to do and they are bored,” Warner said. “We are hoping that through this we can do some things to keep children active and engaged in their communities.”
Warner said the idea for the grant was motivated by a series of suicides that took place among high school students in Kent and Sussex counties during the 2011-2012 school year. Warner said as a response to those incidents, the Centers for Disease Control came to the area and recommended more programs needed to be dedicated to giving children something to do and educating them further about suicide.
Warner said a significant amount of staff training will also be required after an organization’s application is accepted. This training will include dealing with issues surrounding suicide in relation to children, as well as training to spot symptoms of child abuse. From there, the children can be referred to other departments in the DSCYF better equipped to help with such a situation. Mental health will also be a large focus of the grant, with mental health professionals being stationed in some middle schools across the state.
“We hopefully will have one in each county, though some of them will have more than one,” Warner said. “They will be providing mental health services, or behavioral health services, to students who may need additional support in schools.”
The newly-allocated money is the second grant announced so far this year, with the other being $200,000 worth of prevention funding. The recent prevalence of prevention grants relates to Markell’s request in the State of the State speech in January for expanded money that would assist the founding of programs that would keep kids off of the streets, in the classrooms and engaged in learning.
According to the press release, the Delaware General Assembly supported Markell’s proposal of $2.2 million in money that could be given to prevention programs.
Sophomore Steven Garber said he thought any type of program that could keep children intrigued during their early learning would be valuable in making sure they continued in school as they entered their teen years. He also said he thought even more money should be dedicated to trying to teach kids gang life is not a road they want to take.
“I would think that if kids knew the risks, the full extent of the risks, they wouldn’t want to be involved in thug life or whatever,” Garber said. “I think that the reason that kids get involved in that is that it’s all they see when they are young, and so they are automatically attracted to it.”
Sophomore Carrie DePasquale said she would want to set up things kids would have fun while doing. She said sports would be a good alternative for kids, because they can get out and play without getting bored inside.
“I think these kinds of programs are an important thing,” DePasquale said. “You have to start with people who are not already involved in [the streets], as opposed to trying to get people who are already involved to come out of it.”