One state lawmaker is continuing her fight to give Delaware kids more access to after school programs.
House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) is calling on the state to restore funding for public after school programs that legislators cut in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis.
Before the economic downturn, lawmakers set aside extra money for the programs, totaling more than $10 million in fiscal year 2008, for example.
Last year, Delaware spent about $4.5 million on afterschool programs in the form of grants.
Longhurst says there are too few students getting these opportunities, widening an access gap between rich and poor families.
“Right now, there’s only 26,000 kids in the state of Delaware in after school programs. I think that number needs to be doubled and we need to find a way to work together to get that number up,” she said.
Longhurst notes after school activities have been shown to boost grades. They also help parents with rigid work hours.
“They don’t get off work at 2:30 and 3:00 in the afternoon when their kids get off of school. They get off at 6:00, 7:00 or they do double shifts, or they’re sleeping or what have you. This is good for working families.”
The new recommendations champion a new government group to report on the most effective ways to fund these programs.
Longhurst also wants to revive past funding levels. Last year, she floated a bill that would’ve created a permanent fund for these programs, but never reached the floor with its $14.8 million price tag.
Delaware’s budget climate is even worse this year and any bill seeking new money will receive heavy scrutiny, but the majority leader says she’ll keep pushing for new funding.