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Letter: State should update rules for after-school programs

State should update rules for after-school programs

The students in Buffalo Public Schools need all the support they can get to graduate and succeed. Conflicting state regulatory systems are making it difficult for nonprofits like the Northwest Buffalo Community Center to provide crucial support through high-quality after-school programming within the buildings that are most convenient for youth – their school. It is time for the state to resolve these conflicting systems so that we can focus on providing enrichment and academic support for students while keeping them safely off the street after school.

Since we partner with Buffalo Public Schools, we use the same classrooms as they do during the regular school day. However, those classrooms that are fully licensed to safely host hundreds of children during the regular school day must go through a separate licensing process for after-school activities. As an example, when my staff members arrive for after-school activities, they might need to go through a lengthy process of taking down posters and artwork from the walls and doors of the classrooms and hallways. At the end of the program, they put them all back up. They do this because, although posters and artwork are encouraged and safe during the school day, at 3 p.m. they are considered a fire hazard due to differing requirements in the school-age child-care regulations that govern after-school programs. Besides wasting time better spent on planning quality activities, this process has the potential to harm our relationships with teachers, who don’t appreciate us making changes to their classrooms.

Our program and our schools both work to keep kids safe and learning. The state should resolve these conflicting systems so that we can work together for our youth.

Sean McCrossan

Education Director

Northwest Buffalo Community Center