For parents, what happens to their children after school ends is just as important as their time in class. The hours between 3 and 6 o’clock are a critical window when many children are unsupervised, and working parents need a safe, supervised environment for their children. Unfortunately, afterschool programs are costly, and because of this, 11.3 million students are currently left alone and unsupervised once out of school.
In Nashville, public and private organizations work together through various partnerships to remedy this gap, and the local library system is leading the charge.
NPL offers quality programs to students onsite at library branches and offsite at local schools. Studio NPL, programs offered through Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA) and Limitless Libraries are three of the primary free or low-cost programs offered to students through NPL. These initiatives provide affordable activities for students of all ages, backgrounds and neighborhoods.
At DuPont-Tyler Middle School, the NAZA-sponsored afterschool program has proven to be a crucial resource for parents who need a place for their children to work once out of class.
Tracy O’Neill, a single mother, previously struggled to find a suitable program for her son, but NAZA was able to deliver programming that was both affordable and enriching. “My son is high functioning autistic so I needed something that he enjoyed. I needed him to do something where he wasn’t at home alone, and some of the other childcare options were way too expensive for me. He loves it and it keeps him active, and he’s made some friends already. He continually wants to come and be a part of it.”
“From a mother’s standpoint, [NAZA] is a great program. For working parents such as myself, it gives them something to do until I get home to be with them,” says Latoya Madri, a parent who has two children currently in the program. “In this day and time, teenagers need a place that they can go and hang out that won’t let them get in trouble. When they have parents who both work or come from a single parent home, that they have somewhere they can go that is safe until mom and dad get home.”
These afterschool initiatives provide the quality of other programs at a fraction of the cost. With continued work from organizations such as NPL, Nashville will remain a future-focused city with its sights on affordable opportunities for all students.