HOUSTON - There are a half-million dollars up for grabs that will help pay for after school programs for Houston area kids. It may help to know Harris County's Center for Afterschool, Summer Enrichment for kids is funding after school programs throughout the city for moms and dads who need it.
Some parents have already experienced the panic this summer, and are heading back to work in this pandemic while most programs for kids remain closed.
"I was very concerned that I wasn't going to have nobody to take care of them,” explains Lesli Rodriguez but the mother of three found the Stafford Boys and Girls Club had reopened thanks to a partnership with the Center for Afterschool, Summer Enrichment for kids or CASE for kids.
"I was very happy I was going to be able to bring them somewhere they're going to be safe and they're going to be able to have somebody to play with,” says Rodriguez.
"Kids need time to see each other, to socialize, to network. Social-emotional learning is so important for our kids and we can't neglect that even if we're in a pandemic,” says Dr. Lisa Caruthers who's the CASE For Kids Director.
CASE For Kids now has more than $550,000 to give to schools, centers, and non-profits to fund after school programs this coming school year.
"Some of these programs are even opening up all day because of the virtual school situation and we want to make sure there are resources there and available for them,” adds Dr. Caruthers.
Each organization will receive a grant up to $30,000. "Sometimes virtual money can go further. So if we get a lot of virtual applicants we might be able to support a few more programs” explains Dr. Caruthers.
In-person programs will now accommodate fewer children due to CDC rules regarding COVID19. For instance, the Stafford Boys & Girls Club typically accepts 185 kids. Now that number is 62.
"We had to put into play the social distancing, the six feet apart. We had to tweak some of our programming," says Tammie Brown Stafford Boys & Girls Club Director.
While most kids, like the Rodriguez brothers, simply enjoy the fun of an after school program, for parents they are a lifesaver.
"I'm very, very grateful,” smiles Rodriguez.
Schools and organizations have until August 7, 2020, at 4:00 pm to apply for the grant money. Visit https://hcde-texas.org for more information. Parents you can head to www.afterschoolzone.org to find an after school program using the CASE for Kids after school program finder.