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Free After School Programs On Chopping Block

Wyoming Afterschool Alliance

14,000 kids in Wyoming participate in after-school programs, according to the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance. But if President Trump’s proposed budget is passed, up to 65 programs serving those students would be put at risk of closing unless they can find other sources of funding.  

Linda Barton, Director of the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance, said 21st Century Community Learning Centers, one of the several programs Trump is proposing to eliminate, is the only source of federal funding for after-school programs across the nation. Out of the $1.2 billion cut proposed, Wyoming would face an annual loss of $5 million in federal funding.

Barton, said after-school programs help increase academic performance and decrease at-risk behaviors. She said such programs help the workforce.

"Research shows that parents who are working -- their actual working productivity goes down between the hours of three and six when they are worried about what’s going on with their kids after-school." But she said, "it goes back up when they know their kids are somewhere safe and structured. And being around people that are positive mentors for them."

The cuts would have a significant impact in Wyoming where across the state demand for free supervised activity is high, according to Barton.

"I just spoke with the coordinator up in Sheridan. They’ve got like five sites up there and they are running out of room." She said it's the same in Lander. "They’ve got probably 400 kids registered in their programs or more. In the summertime, they are busting at the seams."

Barton said she would like to see even more kids with access to these programs, especially in Wyoming’s more rural communities.

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
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