Parents in and around Smithfield will soon have another place to send their children for after-school care.
Starting with the school year that begins next month, Smithfield will offer after-school care at the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center on Booker Dairy Road next to Smithfield-Selma High School.
An after-school program is new for Smithfield’s Parks and Recreation Department, said Tiffany Pearson, a program supervisor and one of the organizers. “We are always looking for new programs to provide to the community,” she said.
The after-school program will serve children in grades K-6. The weekly cost is $40.
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South Smithfield Elementary School will bus students to SRAC. Parents with children at other schools will have to arrange transportation.
The program will run from 2:30 to 6 p.m. every school day. “They’ll come in, they’ll have a snack, do homework if they need to do homework and have different activities and free play and things like that,” Pearson said.
Children will have access to SRAC facilities and neighboring Community Park, including basketball courts, ball fields and playgrounds. Chaperones will watch over the kids at all times, Pearson said.
“We want the parents to know their kids are somewhere that is safe and where they’re getting a good snack that’s good for them,” Pearson said.
The town is hiring tutors to help children with their homework, Pearson said. She hopes that will allow children to get their homework done quickly so they will have time to play.
“If they need to do their homework, they can get their homework done,” Pearson said. “If the parent wants them to come have free-play and burn out some energy, then they can come and do that.
“We want them to come and have a very dependable, structured but fun place to burn out energy.”
The after-school program is also a chance for the Parks and Recreation Department to make some money. The department earns money from program fees and SRAC memberships, but those don’t pay all of the bills, especially for SRAC operations, so the department needs some tax dollars. Fees from the after-school program will allow the department to rely less on those tax dollars.
If the after-school program has 20 kids in its first year, that will turn into about $10,000 in profit, said Tim Johnson, Smithfield’s departing parks and recreation director.
“Our goal is that it serve two purposes,” Johnson said. “Number one, a service to the community for people who need an after-school program. And then, in the end, if it can provide some more revenue for the (SRAC) to offset operations, then that’s a good thing.”
Parents who want to learn more about the program are invited to an open house from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, at the SRAC, 600 Booker Dairy Road.