Middle Childhood Matters Press Release

Only one in ten children in Toronto have access to full-week after-school programs, reveals new study

TORONTO, Jan. 19 /CNW/ - The vast majority of Toronto's 6 to 12 year olds do not benefit from full-time after-school programs, according to a new study by the Middle Childhood Matters Coalition of Toronto. The lack of supervised after-school activities increases the risk of delinquent behaviours, crime and academic problems among young people, according to the study.

"There are not enough quality childcare centers available to parents in Toronto. Parents who work or go to school depend on after-school programs to provide a safe and engaging space for their kids since most jobs don't cater to parents' childcare issues," said Jacqueline St. Kitts, a Toronto parent. Key spokespersons for Middle Childhood Matters Coalition Toronto (MCMC) will hold a press conference on Monday to present their research findings detailing Toronto's limited after-school programs for middle childhood years children.

The Coalition worked with the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto to map after-school programs across Toronto over the past year. They found striking disparities between the inner suburbs and the former city of Toronto, where resources more than double those of Scarborough despite having significantly fewer children.

While many parents are able to ensure the safety and care of their children through a patchwork of arts and sports programs and coordinate schedules with babysitters, grandparents, or other parents, they recognize that the situation is not ideal.

Lorna Weigand, MCMC, Toronto Co-Chair adds, "Afterschool programs provide an important learning environment where a child has the opportunity to develop. Research shows that these programs are more than just supervised care, as children who participate in after-school programs are more likely to succeed academically, are more self-confident, and have stronger social skills."

The report shows that while considerable investments have been made in early years and best start programs, as well as in teen leadership and development programs, too little investment has been made in Toronto's 6-12 year old children.

Middle Childhood Matters Coalition Toronto is working with parents and caregivers across Toronto to voice the need for high quality, accessible and affordable after-school programs through a comprehensive strategy for all ages.

For further information: Christopher Wulff, (647) 654-3160, chris@socialplanningtoronto.org.

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