May 1 Public Hearing In Pittsfield

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Boston - The Massachusetts Special Commission on After School and Out of School Time announces its second public hearing to be held at the Ralph J. Froio Senior Center, 330 North Street in Pittsfield on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. in the Main Room. Prior to the public hearing, Commission members will be touring the Conte Community School's after-school program that focuses on academic and social enrichment activities for children in grades 1 through 5. The Conte Community School is located at 200 West Union Street in Pittsfield. This Special Commission was created by the Massachusetts Legislature to "study and recommend how to' define and 'better coordinate, expand, finance and improve accessible, affordable, and quality out of school time programming for school age children in all settings in Massachusetts." Led by Senator Thomas McGee (D-Lynn), the Chair of the Senate's Labor and Workforce Development Committee and Representative Marie St. Fleur (D-Boston), the Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, the 36 member Commission has committed to holding at least nine public hearings throughout the state to gather input about the Commonwealth's after-school system. Youth, parents, community and faith-based providers, law enforcement officials, educators, funders, business and other community leaders are expected to attend and provide testimony. "We have an historic opportunity to gain a better understanding of the importance of after-school programs in the lives of children, youth and families," said Senator Thomas McGee. "Since a quality workforce is a linchpin of the after-school system, we need to identify solutions to strengthen it. We look forward to gathering information from the public hearings and site visits that will help us figure out this and other ways to better serve children and youth when they are not in school." "Currently, Massachusetts provides after-school programs to approximately 20% of the Commonwealth's school age population," noted Representative Marie St. Fleur. "It is well documented that the time period between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. is the most hazardous, if unsupervised, for children of that age. It is clear that we need to closely examine how public/private partnerships can leverage existing resources to serve more children and youth to coordinate and strengthen a system of after-school and expanded learning that promotes their healthy development. The public hearings and site visit will help us to hear from all stakeholders on this important matter." 1.1 Million School Aged Children and Youth in Massachusetts There are 1.1 million school aged children and youth ages 5-18 that live in Massachusetts. Of that group, 720,000 are children ages 5-13 and 380,000 are youth ages 14-19. Current state funding serves 205,500 children and youth leaving nearly 80% without access to quality and enriching after-school and summer opportunities. The Massachusetts Special Commission on After School and Out of School Time intends to study this issue more in-depth. In addition to holding the nine public hearings, it will also convene three working groups that will 1) analyze information and access issues; 2) identify quality, workforce and professional development concerns, and 3) determine how the after-school system in the Commonwealth can be sustained. The Special Commission expects to issue a report in the fall of 2007 that will have recommendations in these areas which will strengthen the Commonwealth's after-school system. Massachusetts Special Commission After School/Out of School Time The Massachusetts Special Commission on After School and Out of School Time has been created 'to study and recommend how to' define and 'better coordinate, expand, finance and improve accessible, affordable, and quality out-of-school time programming for school age children in all settings in Massachusetts."
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