2005-09-01 / Front Page

After-school programs fill up fast, sick kids always a dilemma

By Michelle Knight knight@theacorn.com

A perennial question that’s caused many a furrowed brow on parents’ faces at the start of school is how to constructively control their children’s after-school hours. The following are some of the low-cost options available in the Conejo Valley.

Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) offers beforeand after-school child care at all of its elementary schools.

Children from kindergartners to sixth-graders can enroll in either a part-time or all-day program, which begins as early as 7 a.m. After-school programs generally begin around 2:30 p.m. and run until 6 p.m.

The programs are very popular. Kellie Sparks, child care supervisor, said the after-school programs at all schools are full; most even have a waiting list. The after-school program at Cypress Elementary in Newbury Park was expanded this year when an additional room became available, but it too is full.

Sparks said there aren’t enough facilities available at most schools to expand the program and allow more children in. However, priority enrollment is given to returning students and siblings of students already enrolled in the program.

The district’s child care program has no arrangements to care for sick children. The program’s policy is the same as it is for schools: If a child becomes sick while there, the parent will be notified to pick them up. That can present a problem for working parents.

Cheryl Freitas, child care administrator, suggests working parents have a backup person to care for their sick children when they can’t take off from work.

“It’s a tough one; it’s a challenge,” said Freitas.

The all-day monthly child care rate for grades one through six is $248, for kindergarten, it’s $371. Scholarships are available, and discounts are given to part-timers and siblings. For more information, call the district’s child care office at (805) 497-9511, ext. 390.

A couple of community organizations offer a variety of activities for students at the middleschool level. The first of six Boys & Girls Clubs to be built in the Conejo Valley opened on the campus of Los Cerritos Middle School in Thousand Oaks two years ago. Pre-construction on a club at Colina Middle School is scheduled to begin this month.

During the summer, programs at the club are available to Los Cerritos students and children eligible to attend the school—including those who are homeschooled and those who attend private school. During the school year, though, only Los Cerritos students can attend the beforeand after-school programs.

The Boys & Girls Club charges an annual fee of $25. The beforeschool program costs an additional $120 a month, the after-school activities, $150; purchased as a package, they cost $225.

The cost should not deter you, said Phil Hamrick, club program director. They award club scholarships to eligible children.

“Our goal is not to turn anybody away for financial reasons,” Hamrick said.

The club has about 400 members.

The Conejo Valley YMCA at 4031 N. Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks is another community organization with after-school recreational activities. Children 7 and older can learn the proper technique and style of basketball, volleyball and tennis, and take lessons in swimming, water polo and horseback riding. A year-long membership costs $35 and includes use of the exercise equipment. Classes are usually several weeks long and cost an additional fee, which ranges from $32 to $112 for private instruction. The YMCA welcomes people of all ages. Contact them at (805) 5237613 for more information.

Teenagers can find an array of sports activities and social events at the Thousand Oaks Teen Center at 1375 E. Janss Road. The center also hosts enrichment clinics for teens and parents, such as the “Raising a Son” workshop, scheduled from 6 to 10 p.m. Tues., Sept. 13.

Thousand Oaks resident Marla Dennis was instrumental in bringing the workshop to the center. Dennis, who’s raising a 14-year-old son single-handedly, fretted over how best to handle the challenges of the teen years. She researched the subject on the Internet and discovered the workshop put on by youth advocate Mitch DeArmon.

“I wanted to find out how to soften the edges of raising a teen boy and take care of myself in the process,” said Dennis, whose son gets good grades but shows a stubborn streak at times. “The workshop sounds like the answer to my question.”

Dennis contacted the teen center director, who agreed to host the workshop. The cost to attend is $10, but Dennis said they need sponsors from the business community to help defray the speaker’s fee. For more information on the workshop, call the teen center at (805) 4945156 or visit the website at http:// www.thousandoaksteencenter.com.

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