After-school program to close

Short-term fix for Boys and Girls Club closure not a viable ongoing solution, report finds

Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2009

An after-school program put together when the Juneau Boys and Girls Club abruptly closed in September will also come to an end, families were told this week.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

The Valley Youth Club serves a lot of the same kids who attended the Boys and Girls Club when it shut down Sept. 25 due to discontinued federal grant funding.

The new club was quickly set up by Juneau Youth Services as a short-term, 90-day solution for parents who needed immediate child care.

The club would cost too much to keep open, a JYS report found. Parents were notified in writing Tuesday night the club will close Jan. 29.

"They're sad to see it ending," said Clubhouse Manager Taralee Ellis, who worked with the kids under the Boys and Girls Club.

Parents knew the closure was likely, so this time they aren't surprised or panicked by the news, Ellis said.

Ellis now works with fewer kids than before because families during the past few months found new options for after-school care.

Thirty-five kids attend regularly, Ellis said Wednesday. About 45 regularly attended when the Boys and Girls Club closed.

Some families likely signed up for RALLY, an after-school program managed by the Juneau School District.

RALLY saw a 5 percent increase in registrations last month, Supervisor Wayne Hickson said.

The program serves 450 children in first through fifth grades at local elementary schools. It has plenty of additional openings, Hickson said.

Costs for RALLY are higher than the Boys and Girls Club, even for families who qualify for state-funded financial assistance.

Ellis said some parents told her they can't afford the higher costs.

A parent meeting will take place at 5:30 tonight so club staff can help them sort out options for future care, JYS Executive Director Walter Majoros said.

The Juneau Community Foundation and its group of high school philanthropists, the Youth Action Committee, raised about $30,000 with JYS to open Valley Youth Club for three months.

The club operates in the same building as the Boys and Girls Club behind the Nugget Mall in an industrial area. The location was the main reason the report recommended the club's closure.

The Juneau Boys and Girls Club costs $232,000 annually to run, half of which paid for rent and utilities, according to the report. It also notes that a majority of the clubs operate in donated quarters that include recreation facilities, concluding that Juneau's building was inappropriate and its club too expensive to be successful.

Fundraising efforts and city grants netted less than 10 percent of projected costs. The club also lacked a strong local advisory board, the report says.

Boys and Girls Clubs around the state were notified of pending closures in September, after its state office learned of the loss of about $2 million in federal funding.

A dozen clubs closed around the state, said Alana Humphrey, Boys and Girls Clubs of Alaska chief operations officer.

Seven of those will reopen with new sources of funding, mainly from Native organizations, leaving about 40 clubs in Alaska, Humphrey said.

• Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or kim.marquis@juneauempire.com.



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