Private Firm, Schools Offer Working Parents New Option

Article excerpt

Byline: Frank Kourt Daily Herald Correspondent

Imagine a place where you could drop your children before school or have them be able to stay in school after hours and be assured they'll not only be in a safe environment, but be entertained and educated as well.

That scenario is a reality for parents in several Lake County communities, thanks to the Afterschool Club, a unique working relationship between a private company and local school districts.

The first Afterschool Club was started by former junior high school teacher Linda Rix in 1985 after she saw a need for such a program among working parents While she was already running a conventional day-care center, she saw a need beyond that.

She started in Lake Villa with eight children. Today, Afterschool Club serves about 1,500 kids a day in eight communities and is going strong.

Rix said her company contracts with school districts, paying them to use space such as gymnasiums and other rooms within the schools at times when they are not in regular use.

In the morning, children are dropped off at school and participate until classes begin.

After school, the children simply go from their classrooms to the program and are picked up by their parents after the end of their work day.

Rix said because the needs of parents are different in each community, things like hours of operation and services offered can vary to meet the needs. Generally, she said, the before-school portion starts at about 6 a.m. and the after-school session ends at about 6 p.m.

She said during the school year, the program is targeted at children from kindergarten to sixth grade. but expands to seventh- and eighth-graders during the summer. …