Extended Day programs are keeping children safe - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Extended Day programs are keeping children safe

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October 16, 2003
Albany- When the school day ends, Jeff Hall's day is just getting started.

It's his job to take care of these students in the extended day program. He's the site coordinator at Magnolia Elementary School.

"Just seeing them grow and work through different objectives we give them every day, it inspires me," Hall said.

A big part of that job is keeping them busy.

"Here they get homework time, they get snacks and do arts and crafts."

The most important part is keeping them safe. Extended day keeps children whose parents work, from going home by themselves.

Fifteen years ago, 7-year-old Jessica Reinhart, a latchkey child, was murdered at her home after school. She was a student at Magnolia Elementary. She lived with her mother in a duplex off Gillionville.

But when she got home that afternoon, there was a teenager waiting inside. After he killed her, he set the home on fire. Former Mayor Larry Bays was there that day.

"Based on that, there was a lot of us in the community that got together and decided that we were going to do something," Bays said.

And they did. The next year, the school system began its extended day program with 47 children.

"But if it hadn't been for the teachers, volunteering to stay late and be away from their families and give their time, it never would have worked," he said.

Today, the program has full-time employees who care for close to 900 children at a cost of $25 a week.

"You know that they come straight here and then we got 'em until 6 o'clock," Hall said.

And parents can concentrate on their jobs, because they know Hall is doing his.

Dougherty County's Extended Day Program has started early day programs at two schools, Northside and Lake Park elementaries, for parents who work early shifts. Parents who are interested in early day care need to let their schools know.

posted at 9:30 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com