Sioux Falls is a city of working parents. Here, 84% of school-age children live in families where all parents are in the workforce ─ a statistic that beats the national average by nearly 20%.
With kids spending only 14% of their time in classrooms, what they’re doing during out-of-school time and whether they’re safe is an issue that affects both families and employers.
When school is out, arranging and paying for childcare and programs that keep children safe and engaged in meaningful activities is a challenge for working families. And job productivity is lost when parents need to check up on their kids during the workday.
“It’s a social and a workforce issue,” says Deb Koski, an executive with the Sanford Foundation and the chair of Sioux Falls Thrive, a local nonprofit that works to remove obstacles to student success. “That’s why we asked Augustana University’s Research Institute to do a comprehensive study of how our community is responding to the challenges.”
Thrive has released Augustana’s findings ─ “Student Safety and Out-of-School Time” ─ on its website. Thrive Student Safety Report – Final. The research institute team was led by Suzanne Smith, Principal Investigator. In addition to socio-economic and demographic research, the team surveyed and interviewed parents, students, and stakeholders ─ people who run after-school and youth enrichment programs, school counselors and social workers, and juvenile justice and law enforcement personnel.
“Some of what we learned confirmed what we suspected. Cost, hours of operation, transportation, and the location of programs are all barriers to keeping kids safe during out-of-school time,” Koski says. “Beyond that, it’s the stakeholders’ perspectives that shine a new light on how lack of supervision impacts our kids and that set direction for community collaboration that leads to improved out-of-school services.”
Now that the research has been published, Thrive will begin a search for volunteers who’d like to serve on the Student Safety Action Team. The action team will include representatives from business, government, nonprofit, and faith-based sectors. Members, who serve an initial two-year term, work to remove or significantly reduce the impact of obstacles to student safety.
Go to Thrive Student Safety Report – Final to download your copy of “Student Safety and Out-of-School Time”.