C-SAFE in need of funds for after-school program

July 07, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

A Hagerstown anti-crime program does not have the money needed to run its after-school program for the coming school year, officials said Tuesday.

During the Hagerstown City Council work session Tuesday, C-SAFE program coordinator Carolyn Brooks said she is nearly $70,000 short of her $90,000 goal to run the program at capacity starting in October.

The City Council approved giving $35,000 to Brooks' group and said it would ask the Washington County Commissioners for the remaining $35,000 Brooks needs.


After the meeting, Brooks said she was pleased to hear the city's response.

"My goodness, yeah!" Brooks said. "Certainly, that would help a lot," Brooks said.

The C-SAFE after-school program is held at four elementary schools in Hagerstown. Between 20 and 25 fourth- and fifth-graders at Bester, Fountaindale, Winter Street and Eastern elementary schools are enrolled in the program every year.

The C-SAFE program, formerly known as the Hotspot Communities program, is a crime-prevention program that works through the schools, community groups and local law enforcement. The schools aspect is the only part for which funding is needed, Brooks said.

Students are hand-picked by teachers at each school for participation in the after-school program. Youngsters are selected for such reasons as slipping grades or because they have no one at home to help guide them.

In a packet Brooks distributed Tuesday, the target group also includes students from single-parent homes or those with low self-esteem.

Brooks said the program costs $8.90 a day per student, although the program costs are covered by grants and students do not have to pay. The money pays for one primary teacher and two assistants at each school, snacks and field trips.

Brooks said she has received $20,000 in grants so far. The Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention and Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families each gave $10,000, and a private donor gave $250.

Hagerstown City Police Department Chief Arthur Smith and Winter Street Elementary School Principal Katherine Kelsey said the after-school program is an important tool for children.

Smith said the program is a "key in a long-term approach to crime. ... If you take children this age group and make them more successful in school, it changes their fundamental outlook."

"It's giving them a safe place to be," Kelsey said.

There was no objection to the pledge from the City Council, but Councilman N. Linn Hendershot said, "there's gotta be a more cost-effective way of doing this."

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