Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hot topic: Aftercare dilemmas

This from a reader:
We are assigned to Lafayette, and everything seemed to be going swimmingly until I discovered that there is already a waiting list of 10 people for the only onsite aftercare program open to K students. There is an offisite option at the JCC, but I am naturally anxious about the bus situation, although I have been told that it's all very well run.

Can anyone reassure me that this will somehow work out? I would really hate to feel pushed into our private option simply because we both work, school ends at 1:50, and our son has no guaranteed aftercare space.

54 comments:

  1. The bus is fine, and your kid will do fine. Get on that waitiing list for the onsite program, and run, don't walk, to get on the JCC program. It WILL work out, and you will spare yourself years of paying through the nose for private when you have a lovely public option. I went through this. There's time. It will work out.

    Worst case ever, and an unlikely one, you hire someone for one year to pick up your son and drive him somewhere else that has openings, or even hire someone to care for him after school. That will still be cheaper than years of private.

    I bet a spot opens up at Lafayette, though. That happened to us at one of the GLO programs.

    Hang in there, and good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I hear great things about the JCC aftercare program, but I have also heard it fills up fast. You might want to check it out sooner than later.

    We have a son starting K at Lafayette in the fall. I'm concerned that doing aftercare will make for too long of a day for him. It's going to be very hard for me to get my work done in time to pick him up at 1:50. but I'm a freelancer so I do have some flexibility.

    In the end, we opted out of the onsite childcare. I'm hoping I won't regret it!! Good luck getting it all figured out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The JCC aftercare program is amazing! My son was excited about riding the bus (there were other kids in his grade on it, and also the older kids helped the younger ones settle in), and just loved the program. He never wanted to leave when I tried to pick him up early... I really can't think of any aftercare program that compares...

    ReplyDelete
  4. The other night I attended a meeting in the Western Addition regarding John Muir. Parents want the district to stop sending their kids across town and to start focusing on making every school a better school. It is a false notion to think that only people in "good" zones want neighborhood schools. The present and future assignment systems undermine certain schools by encouraging flight and leaving the remainders to wither, much in the same way that some accuse charters. If SFUSD spent half the effort on lifting up schools as it does on promoting it user unfriendly programs, we'd already have quality schools in every neighborhood. SFUSD does not represent its students. It is there for the benefit of its employees.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I got sidetracked and forgot why I wanted to post a comment on this topic. The parents from John Muir expressed that they don't want to leave their neighborhood for many reasons, one of them being that the logistics of aftercare is very difficult for some when far from home.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I would go with Lafayette, my niece goes there and is doing very well.

    The aftercare will work out. There is plenty of time.

    People fight to get into the JCC program.. so if you can get in there, he won't be the only one on the bus and he might actually enjoy the ride.
    Busses are different from when we were kids.. they wear seatbelts, no kids flailing about. Sorry don't remember the name of the program, they have a summer camp so look at Sfkids.org and search afterschool or summer camps.


    Also there are other options, what about the place in GGP. They will arange pick up if you can find 5 children from you school.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've got an answer to your aftercare. It's called a nanny. People of means have them.

    Sincerely,
    Catherine and Kent

    ReplyDelete
  8. We too faced the same dilema. We both work so we can only get our child a little before 6pm. We went private. Guaranteed spot and they seem to have lots of activities.
    Example:
    Tennis, Golf, Karate, Yoda, Hip Hop, Movie Making, Digital photography, singing, drama, piano, guitar, jewelry making, juggling, language classes, Rock band basics, chess, tree frog treks,Engineering fundamental design, cooking, gynastics, painting, fencing and basketball... etc etc..

    I'm sure the JCC would have most of these options.

    Good luck to you.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Kate, can you please either block this person (Catherine and Kent) or remove the posts? This blog is really no place for such musings.

    ReplyDelete
  10. 12:17, really? They're funny and harmless. Not directed at any one person or anyone's particular school. This blog can use the humor. Too much stress around here, you can practically taste it. Laughter is good medicine.

    ReplyDelete
  11. We had to make the same choice at Lafayette this year, as the onside after care was full when we got in. First of all, welcome - it's a wonderful school!

    I was petrified to have our son on the bus (I followed the bus the first day : ) Once I met the bus driver and saw how well she had things under control with the children, I felt much better. Our son loved his rides on the bus - it was one of the highlights of his day.

    In November, we did get into the onsite after care full-time and switched because it was easier logistically for our family. So, there can be movement for the onsite care...

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm with Don.

    The JCC program will not help parents in the southern half of the city.

    I don't know if the city has ever thought about where their revenue stream comes from.

    Perhaps not.

    A large portion of the working schlubs in this city work on the Pennisula and live in Noe, Potrero or southward. The newly entitled, technical, upwardly mobile, working class if you will.

    For them, a slog across town to pick up at aftercare in the Western Addition or northward is a joke.

    They would have liked to have sent their kids to publics school, but having benefitted from an excellent, often public, education themselves, they weren't about to put their kids in the SE shark tank.

    And the complete absence of afterschool care didn't help.

    I love the way nobody in this town grasps the concept and essential need for universality of services, both socioeconomically and geographically.

    Starve the middle. Appease vocal labor interests as well as Pacific Heights.

    How about doing the numbers? Where is the revenue growth in the city going to come from?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Original poster here. Thanks to all those who provided advice and reassurance. After our tour this morning and reading responses, I feel more confident that something will work out, and I’m acting now to get on lists, etc. Many thanks!

    A) “Don,” I asked a specific question about aftercare, so this is not the time to grind your neighborhood schools ax. B) “Catherine and Kent,” your schtick was funny the first few times. Now, it’s a gimmick and it’s way tired. And we are not people of means.

    ReplyDelete
  14. 1:18 PM:

    Glad to know you've solved your particular problem and don't care about anybody else.

    Maybe we should all adopt this strategy.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Original poster, I look forward to meeting you when our kids start K at Lafayette! I think we'll be in a good place.

    ReplyDelete
  16. And for the record, I'm not only concerned about our own aftercare situation, but it's nice to have a plan for the fall. I will add universal aftercare to my soap box list going forward as I talk to others in public school here in SF. It is a significant problem, among many.

    ReplyDelete
  17. And for the record, I'm not only concerned about our own school funding situation, but it's nice to have a plan for school, since our only public school option had no aftercare program and less than 50% profficient CST scores. I will add public school funding and academic underperformance in SE public schools to my soap box list going forward. They are significant problems, among many.

    ReplyDelete
  18. 1:56, all true, I'm sure. I can't tell if you are mocking me, but I feel for you, either way.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Logistically feasible aftercare is a big concern for working parents across the board. Though public schools have many great programs, availability is hit or miss from school to school. Private schools typically have a program of some sort available on site to all kids at the school. Depending on logistics, parent work demands, resources available to hire others for pick-up, etc., some certainty that you will get on site after care can be a real draw. Does anyone know to what extent the budget crisis will affect available after-care at SFUSD schools? I know some of the programs (e.g., JCC) have facilities and transport run by the providers, but is that true at all SFUSD schools? Do third party providers tie their offerings on schools likely to have enough students able to afford their programs?

    ReplyDelete
  20. "Does anyone know to what extent the budget crisis will affect available after-care at SFUSD schools?"

    As we don't know (yet) where and when key teaching staff are going to get whacked, the answer is no. If I was to hazard a guess, I'd bet the subsidized programs at the CDCs will get hit more than the ones charging full rate. I don't know how much or any subsidy e.g. non-profit programs like GLO (which is at six SFUSD schools) or the YMCA or the Boys and Girls club get from the district. Best to call the afterschool programs at the schools you're interested in directly.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I heard a rumor that sfusd will be taking over aftercare at13 schools next year with an aim to take over all the after care. Presumably this would be a rev stream for the city and even out the playing field. Anyone else hear this?

    ReplyDelete
  22. I just want to respond to the person who called the JCC worthless to people who work in Silicon Valley and/or live in the South side of town. We live in Noe Valley and send our children to Brandeis Hillel Day School in part for that way. My husband and I both work in technology and have alternated through jobs that have been located between SF (usually SOMA) and San Jose. We would have loved to utilize the JCC afterschool program as it is, in fact, amazing. I saw those kids all the time after school during my last maternity leave when I found myself at the JCC often in the afternoon. I saw the buses arrive, the teachers meet them, and the kids being taken to various activities. It is amazing. I would love to be able to send my kids to this program, but it does not work for us logistically.

    That said, you should know that the JCC is currently involved in some long term planning. It wouldn't hurt to reply to one of the links on the website and let the PTB know that when the JCC considers expanding, the south side of the city might be a good way to go. It's ironic because I think actually that Brandeis Hillel's campus, which lies on a sprawling green several acres, actually used to belong to the JCC before purchased by Brandeis Hillel. So they have been there before and they may again.

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  23. 10:09 PM:

    Thanks very much for the info.

    BTW, I didn't want to imply that I thought that JCC was worthless.

    As your case, very similar to ours, clearly points out, there are a lot of families, A LOT!, who live in Bernal/Potrero/Glen Park/Excelsior/Ingleside who might be willing to consider public school if they could coordinate a good aftercare program.

    To be honest, I'd still be nervous about the bus.

    And yes, the JCC does have amazing programming.

    Thanks for the tip about future JCC planning. Some of the parents who are considering Junipero Serra must be very interested in this.

    ReplyDelete
  24. HELP! I'm trying to find Moscone parents. My son will be going to Moscone ES for K, and they have no aftercare program - and the CDC attached to the school will not take him. When I spoke with aftercare at both Flynn (YMCA) and Buena Vista they said if I could get my child there, he is welcome to attend. Now I'm trying to find a group of kids from Moscone who need aftercare, can anyone connect me? I've tried PPSSF and haven't had any info. from them. There is apparently no PTA at Moscone (according to the secretary) and I'm just not sure how else to connect. The school principal told me that there will be a new parent meeting in May, but I'd like to get things rolling sooner so that I can secure a place somewhere before they fill up.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Betty Westbrook--fellow Lafayette K parent!--sorry if I’ve missed another of your posts, but you might consider getting on the waitlist for the Y onsite. You don’t have to pay anything to get on the waitlist. You’ll pay the fees later if a spot opens up (full-time M-F is $395/month). That way, you’d at least have the option, and spaces may well open up over the summer! I don't know if you've had a chance to meet Ruby Brown, but we really liked the school and her--the kids clearly adore her, and there’s a lot of love evident between her and the teachers. Even with budget problems impending, it felt like a school that could weather a storm because there’s good leadership and dedication on all parts.

    Moscone parent at 8:03, that’s a terrible situation! If you’re not trying to get a spot elsewhere in Round 2, perhaps Kate could start a thread specifically about this problem. It’s really not a fair situation.

    ReplyDelete
  26. 9:28, good idea about the Y onsite waitlist. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  27. McKinley has a great after care program and we had no problems getting in last year. In addition, they also have after school language classes in both Spanish and Mandarin. The language classes are Monday-Thursday and end at 4:00. The cost has been $160/month. If you need additional care, the non profit group ASEP goes until 6:00 and is only an additional $150 a month since it is prorated for the language classes. I am not sure how much it is if your child isn't in the language class but you can ask. ASEP will also take the kids on field trips on alternate Fridays, if it is good weather (i.e. not raining). The kids love it and are really well care for and all of this is on site!

    ReplyDelete
  28. We used to have the same problem at Alvarado. We could never get into the GLO after-school program on-site, but there are several after-school options on most of their bus line drop offs.
    I know when she first started out in Kindergarten the idea of her taking a school bus was quite unnerving. But all the children wait with a teacher for their bus, younger children sit up front near the bus driver, the driver has a list and makes sure each child is getting off at their destinations and there is always a teacher/site director to meet them at their place of destination.
    Those looking for alternative after-care, CDC is a good place, but also Park & Rec. My daughter takes a 2 minute bus ride up to Douglass Park every day for their "Latch Key" program which only cost $298 for the entire school year.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Friends of mine have a daughter at Lafeyette. The JCC aftercare is probably the thing they like best about the school. FYI, JCC runs an awesome soccer team with SF Viking. They have a hired coach and coordinate with aftercare so you don't have to take you child too and from practice. Added bonus.

    ReplyDelete
  30. HOT TOPIC: How are Lafayette and McKinley parents feeling about the budget cuts?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Yes, I would love to hear from current parents at these schools, or any others. I am hearing from parents at McKinley that things will be very different next year. No extras. Just 14 teachers and a principal. Is the same true of Lafayette?

    ReplyDelete
  32. I am a parent at McKinley and I haven't heard any of this. I know that 4 teachers got "Pink Slips" but things won't shake out until later if they really are going to leave. As for the rest of it, I know that they PTA has a plan but haven't had time to read what they are planning. They have a really strong PTA and I think will fare well despite the cuts because the PTA has been really active in fund raising.

    ReplyDelete
  33. 2:03, I have heard from 2 parents at McKinley that arts, PE and language will no longer be part of the curriculum next year due to lack of funding. You might want to check with the principal. I'm sorry to say that I think things are worse than you realize.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Apart from being appalled and dismayed, I actually feel OK about it because some key Lafayette positions are protected thanks to fundraising and grants—they keep their librarian, music program, and P.E., and will even add a garden coordinator next year. K classes will go up in size to 24 from 22, but my two observations of the school day in action showed that these teachers have good classroom management skills. They kept the kids engaged and on task, and they already do not have full-time support.

    My partner and I both work at schools, and I can tell you that great leadership and teamwork between families, administration, and teachers, makes all the difference. I felt strongly that Lafayette has all this. The cuts are still just appalling and dispiriting--why should a PTA have to do all the work of the state?

    ReplyDelete
  35. I just saw something posted on one of the yahoo school group lists (can't remember if it is sfschools or ppssf) from the McKinley PTA regarding enrichment--an RFP related to their master plan for dealing with the budget cuts. Whoever is concerned about knowing the *actual* situation should probably contact both PTA officers and site council reps for the real scoop.

    ReplyDelete
  36. For those who want to know about *actual* plans at McKinley, as opposed to rumor or old news, check with the PTA and site council. I just saw something posted on one of the yahoo groups (can't remember if it is sfschools or ppssf) by someone from the PTA related to an RFP for enrichment--something about their master plan for addressing the budget cuts.

    ReplyDelete
  37. 2:08,

    Yes, I did hear that but the PTA is banding together and trying to save these programs. They are actively working on it now. That is why is is such a great school. The budget cuts hurt but the parents won't let their kids down. I am sure that many of these programs will still be offered.

    ReplyDelete
  38. How the HELL can the state and district make schools cut PE with all the furor over childhood obesity? It's just grotesque. And no, I don't think it's more important than art, but art is easier to do at home if you must. Getting your kid enough exercise in this city is difficult.

    ReplyDelete
  39. 3:10 - I agree with you

    ReplyDelete
  40. "Getting your kid enough exercise in this city is difficult."

    Just have them walk back and forth to their assigned SFUSD school and they could get in 10 miles a day!

    ReplyDelete
  41. 4:32, this is 3:10. Hilarious, truly. Fixes the bus problem and the PE problem, all at once.

    ReplyDelete
  42. 4:32

    My soon to be kindergarten's commute is 39 minutes to his assigned school. 17 minute walk and 12 minute MUNI ride which includes one transfer. THANK YOU SFUSD!

    ReplyDelete
  43. "HELP! I'm trying to find Moscone parents."

    Anon at 8:03 am, I know parents with 1st graders at Marshall who are struggling with similar issues. If you don't get anywhere, post an email address that works for you here and I'll put you in touch with them.

    ReplyDelete
  44. 10:35, are you R2/waitpooling something closer?

    That will be one thing with the new system--all ES students given a default neighborhood school close to home.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Does anyone have ideas for morning care? The school starts at 9:30!! We are not on a bus route. What is the earliest I can drop off?

    ReplyDelete
  46. 9:01, one thought for morning care if there is no program is a fellow parent (neighbor or someone on your way to work) who can take your kid in the early AM and bring both to school, perhaps for $$ or barter.

    ReplyDelete
  47. 9:01 am here, there is no morning program ( I checked) and I do not know a soul at the school. Unlike, afterschool, I cannot imagine hiring someone to watch my kid for 45 minutes a day, which is the time problem.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Aftercare is such a huge deal. we're happy with the school we got - Jefferson - but it looks like there is virtually no hope of getting into the on-site aftercare there. We applied but the woman said she doesn't have any idea if there will be spots. Getting a babysitter would be very expensive, since the going rate is $18-20 an hour and I'll need 3 hours a day. Help. Does anyone know of other aftercare programs that serve Jefferson?

    ReplyDelete
  49. 9:01,

    Have you asked at the school what other families are doing? Many late-start schools provide before-school care. Many schools have supervised playgrounds starting a little before school (e.g., my early-start school opens up at 7:30). Surely you are not the only parent at this school with this issue. At worst, maybe there is a babysitting co-op in place?--I realize most people do not have flexible work, but it might be easier to arrange a late arrival once a week (and make up for it on the other end of the day) rather than every day.

    But anyway--do ASK what others are doing.

    Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Why cannot schools all start at a normal time, like 8:30 a.m. since we are doing away with the busses anyway :)

    ReplyDelete
  51. Most schools start drop off 20 minutes before school starts so children can have breakfast.

    ReplyDelete
  52. FYI - Today is the day that the JCC's after care program began accepting applications for next year. They accept apps. on a first come/first served basis, with priority for (1) siblings, (2) children of JCC employees and (3)children who currently are enrolled in a JCC preschool. If you're interested, you should get your app. in right away.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Does anyone know anything about after-care at Francis Scott Key? I was told when I enrolled my daughter on the 24th that it was too early to sign up, but I see that other schools already have a wait list?

    ReplyDelete
  54. I'm looking for fellow Sherman Elem. Kindergarten parents who would like to participate in private after school activities like Exploritorium, Academy of Science, nature photography/ painting and biking...Will provide organic snacks and safe transportation. Space available for 2.
    I am a crendentialed elementary teacher and will provide a family style environment. Please contact me for more information and we can arrange a playdate to introduce our kinder-kuties!

    ReplyDelete