Simplified: The Sioux Falls School District hired a former nonprofit CEO to oversee after-school programs and community partnerships in a new administrative position. Meet Rebecca Wimmer.
Why it matters
- A Sioux Falls Thrive study estimates between 4,000 and 6,000 kids who need after-school care are not enrolled in an after-school program. Even the district's existing after-school program, Kids Inc, has more than 500 kids on the waitlist.
- After-school programs are also an important part of learning for kids. It's a place to learn in a different way and build important life skills, including learning how to be part of a community, Wimmer said.
- Addressing the need will take a community-wide effort, Wimmer said, and in her new role she's looking to bring different organizations together to determine what after-school can look like in our community.
"How do we develop a program that ensures every child has access to the same type of program?" Wimmer said, noting that most of those thousands of kids without care now are from low-income families.
What's being done now to fill this need?
There are a couple of pilot programs going on to test what a solution could look like in providing after-school care.
One program is at Laura B. Anderson offering free care through a variety of partnerships.
And another is a partnership with the YMCA in local middle schools providing after-school programming.
What happens next?
There's no specific timeline for the goals she's trying to accomplish, but Wimmer said for her, success is seeing change happen.
That means, essentially, more kids in after-school care and more community partnerships.
It'll all take a holistic approach, though. Wimmer notes, for example, the families in which a middle schooler may be going home after school to take care of a younger sibling.
- Without child care for those younger siblings, there's not going to be an opportunity for that older sibling to participate in the after-school programming.
- There's also the challenge of ensuring the district can find workers to fill any positions created by new programs.
- And, of course, there's the challenge of finding a way to make programs affordable.
But Wimmer is energized by the conversations she's had so far, and she wouldn't have left her previous gig as the CEO of the Boys & Girls Club if she didn't believe in this work, she said.
"We're starting to dream about what could this look like," Wimmer said, adding that her excitement is shared by nonprofit partners. "We're getting to design this thing, what do you want it to look like?"