For busy parents, having day care programming after school, during holidays and breaks for students is a game-changer. But affordability can be an issue.

Looking to fill a “significant need” in the Kegonsa Elementary School attendance area, officials teamed up with the Stoughton Community Recreation Department up over the summer to create a new afterschool care program, which started in September.

Kegonsa principal Erin Conrad said the program has around 15 students so far, with plenty of room to grow, because by the time it was approved in July, most families already had arranged their after school care. Still, easing into things has worked out well.

“It’s been a really nice way to start because what’s important for us is ensuring have a high-quality program,” she said. “We do believe for next year, we have quite a bit of interest from families to establish that care for the following school year. So we’re adding kids as they begin to need care.”

Addressing a challenge

Over the last few years, one of the top needs parents and families identified is a “high-quality, low-cost” after school care program at Kegonsa, Conrad said.

“In the past, there has been after school programming provided by another organization but the cost was prohibitive for our families,” she said. “I knew that learning through parent surveys, we had a pretty significant need and it really rose to the top of needs.”

As timing would have it, that’s also when City of Stoughton recreation supervisor Kourtni Barnes, who has experience in after school programming in Madison, reached out to Conrad, and the two had a “long conversation” about the situation, and how the city could help. The two put together a proposal, which the city approved this summer.

“(Barnes) has incredible expertise and just the drive to do something to fix one of our main needs,” Conrad said.

The program, which ends June 6, runs from 3:05-5:45 p.m. on school days, including activities and a snack, with two- and five-day enrollment options.

For Conrad, the best part of the collaboration is being able to offer partial and full “scholarships” to families in need.

“That’s what is pretty spectacular about this, because this is a burgeoning partnership with the city,” she said. “It’s a huge need , so we’re really excited where we’ve come so far.”

Enrollment for the 2019-20 school year starts in March. For information, contact Conrad at 877-5201 or erin.conrad@stoughton.k12.wi.us or Stoughton Parks and Recreation recreation supervisor Kourtni Barnes at 873-6746 or kbarnes@ci.stoughton.wi.us.

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.