DESTINATION
Buses deliver kids from local area schools to the School Age Services after-school program every weekday.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- With several hours between the time school ends and work ends, many parents seek out after-school programs for their children. Child Youth and School Services offers parents another choice for after-school care, including pickup at some area schools.

"We physically started doing the busing program in September," Andre Terry, Child Youth and School Services division chief, said. "The first bus arrived in October and the last one came in November."

Five 15-passenger buses now travel the weekday routes to pick kids up at their school and deliver them to the Myra Garriott School Age Services building or the Youth Services Center next door, depending upon their age.

The buses were bought with funding from the Army Family Covenant, Terry said. There is no cost to parents for bus transportation to the after-school programs. Parents of SAS attendees pay only for the childcare program itself. Unlike many programs off post, there is no waiting list.

"Our new facility opened in April. Capacity for it is 195 children; during a regular school year we have 55-60 kids in the program," Terry said. "There is no waiting list. If a parent needs a spot, we can guarantee them one tomorrow."

For middle school kids and teens riding the buses to the youth center, there is no cost at all. Because older kids require supervision and not formal childcare, its services are free. It's a great way to keep a watchful eye on older kids, while providing them with fun activities and homework help, according to Terry.

"We'll pick them up and bring them to our facility. We feed them a snack. They are in an accredited program with trained staff. They have access to a homework tutor and our computer lab," he said. "We have recreation and sports programs there in that facility as well."

Both programs are open to all of Team Redstone. Civilians and contractors are welcome to make use of their services. For those working on the installation, having kids on post during the hours between the end of the school day and the end of the work day not only gives peace of mind, it also saves driving time.

"We bring them here so you don't have to leave to pick them up at school," Terry said. "When your day is over they are here on post with you."

Currently the buses are picking up at 12 schools in the Madison area. Now they are shifting their focus to include schools on the Huntsville side of the installation. More schools are being added to the routes as parents request them. In order to keep track of requests, CYSS is keeping a list.

While they cannot add another school to their bus routes for one child, Terry said they only need a couple at a location to make it feasible.

"We're trying to find out where kids are whose parents are interested in our programs," he explained. "We want to have a minimum of four kids either at the same school or at schools close to each other in order to add that stop to our route."

At this time, the buses are operating at close to 70 percent of their seating capacity. CYSS has more buses in the works so that as demand increases with the addition of more schools, there is plenty of room without increased drive time for kids.

"We don't want the kids sitting on a bus any longer than they have to be," Terry said. "We're adding more buses beginning in April. The program is picking up faster than we expected."

For more information on after-school programs, schools currently serviced by buses or to request a school be added, call 876-3704.

"Even if your school is not listed, call us," Terry said. "As we build our list, we can include additional schools. Other people may have asked about that school already. All it takes is a couple of interested people to add that school to our route."

Schools currently serviced by CYSS buses include the following: Endeavor Elementary, Madison Elementary, West Madison Elementary, Harvest Elementary,
Legacy Elementary, Providence Elementary, Westlawn Middle School, Monrovia Middle School, Sparkman Middle School, Providence Middle School, Sparkman High School, and Sparkman 9th Grade School.

To request additional schools, call 876-3704.

Page last updated Mon January 25th, 2010 at 16:57