HELENA — Jefferson Elementary School celebrated the School Age Child Care Program's (SACC) 30th anniversary Tuesday, during "Lights on Afterschool Week."
"Lights on Afterschool Week" is a nationwide event that draws attention to the importance of afterschool programs and the resources required to keep the lights on and the doors open, especially as programs step up to help students, families, and communities.
The SACC program cares for children after-school hours, helping parents balance work and home life. Governor Greg Gianforte says it's critical program for parents in the workforce.
"Kiddos need a safe place to go, and it's been operating now for 30 years. Kids stay here after school until their parents can pick them up at 6 pm, and it allows people to stay in the workforce and make sure our kids are taken care of," said Gianforte.
Governor Gianforte issued a proclamation declaring Oct. 17-21 as Lights on Afterschool Week in recognition of the importance of programs like SACC.
The SACC program offers positive activities to the children like crafts, games, music, play, and time to finish schoolwork or reading. The SACC program isn't only for after-school hours, the program is there all around the school year including during winter and spring break. Kristan Roush, the program director of SACC, tells MTN this is a crucial program to have for the community.
"Very important for the Helena community because there aren't a lot of options for after-school, or out-of-school time for families. So we run after school, before school, and then during school outbreaks, so the October conference day is coming up, and then winter break and spring break and summer as well," said Roush
In America today, 7.6 million children are alone and unsupervised after school according to the Afterschool Alliance.
"It gives family's the opportunity to have their kids in a safe spot, not going home and being a latch-key-kid and part of what we're celebrating this week as well as lights on for after-school just meaning that there is a safe place for kids to come in the afternoon," said Roush
The School Age Child Care program currently serves more than 350 students at the 11 elementary schools in the district.