Lincoln after-school programs see more demand but less staff to handle it

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – There has been an increased demand for after-school programs throughout the pandemic.

The only problem? They don’t have the staff to handle it.

Dozens of kids gather at Civic Nebraska’s Community Learning Center inside of Lincoln’s Campbell Elementary School after the closing bell rings.

The staff has recently seen a growing demand, but because of staffing shortages, their hands are tied.

A year ago, the CLC had 80 kids enrolled, but that’s now down to 60, which has led to a 20-person wait list.

They say they would love to take in everyone, but in order to keep kids safe, they can’t.

“This is one of those jobs where if you don’t have enough adults, kids aren’t safe, and I think that’s one of the major concerns,” coordinator Erin Outson said.

The staff had to make changes to their day-to-day operations and get creative with activities, but it’s not stopping them.

They’re hoping that by the fall, they’ll be fully staffed with no wait list and a little normalcy.

“We’re on our way to get there,” Outson said. “It’s like you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but right now, we still need about two more staff to kind of fill in those gaps when staff has family emergencies and things like that.”

For Outson, this hits home.

She grew up in after-school programs and knows firsthand that they are so much more than child care.

“My mom was a single mom, and after-school care was something we did all the time, and without that, she wouldn’t have been able to have her job,” Outson said.

If you’re interested in applying or becoming a volunteer, go to Civic Nebraska’s website.

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