After school programs get state funding

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday announced $10.9 million in new grants for 68 Advantage After School Programs across the state, including two grants for the Mental Health Association of Fulton & Montgomery Counties Inc.

A news release from Cuomo’s office indicated the association received a $220,000 grant to benefit Fulton County, and a $133,419 grant to benefit Montgomery County.

Contracts, administered by the state Office of Children and Family Services, are scheduled to begin in September, and services are during the school year.

Association Executive Director Janine Dykeman couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

According to the Mental Health Association of Fulton & Montgomery Counties’ website, the agency has four Advantage After School Programs at: Gloversville Middle School, Fonda-Fultonville Central School, St. Johnsville Elementary School and the Marie Curie Institute in Amsterdam.

The program at GMS is open to any child in the school at no cost to the family. The program presents a safe, nurturing environment where children have opportunities to participate in activities that enhance and extend academic experiences while providing for positive social and emotional growth and development, the website said.

Any child in the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District in grades K-8 can participate in the Advantage After School Program at no cost to the family. Each program day homework time and assistance is available, as well as activities and workshops that enhance a youth’s self esteem, interpersonal skills, and personal goal development.

Similar services are offered the other sites. In St. Johnsville and Amsterdam, the program provides homework time and assistance, a variety of clubs, such as drama, cooking, arts and crafts, and exercise activities each day.

The release said the AASPs provide thousands of school-age children with quality youth development opportunities for three hours at the end of each school day. The statewide programs reduce the burden on parents and guardians who work in the evenings and are proven to boost academic achievement, enrich relationships with their peers and increase school attendance the release said.

AASPs are funded primarily through state funds and a contribution of federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families funds.

“By funding these after school programs, we are ensuring that children in communities across the state have access to learning opportunities and cultural exposure that will further their development for years to come,” Cuomo said in the release.

The AASP was created to help provide New York’s children with educational, interesting and fun activities to fill the vital three-hour gap directly after school.