The race is on for parents to find after-school programs for their kids after the announced closing of after-school programs at all Hillsborough County recreation centers.
County officials said in public meetings that offerings at schools and other community organizations would be able to fill in the gaps, but that might be a moot point when it comes the Brandon Family YMCA.
The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners voted in July to shut down the after-school programs offered through the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department, which means no more such offerings at the Brandon Recreation Center at 502 East Sadie Street.
The Brandon Family YMCA, at 3097 South Kingsway Road, is roughly 2 miles north of the Brandon Recreation Center. (Sadie Street feeds into Kingsway Road, across the street from Yates Elementary School).
Greg Sorenson, executive director of the Brandon Family YMCA, and Diana Niles, the Y’s development director, said the facilities at Kingsway Road do not meet licensing requirements for after-school programming.
Parents, as they do now, can sign up their kids for any number of extracurricular activities at the Brandon Y, such as dance classes, swim teams, a leadership club, and gymnastics and basketball programs.
And more such offerings could be forthcoming.
But to depend on the Brandon Y for after-school programming in the traditional sense -- with transportation to the site with a set program to fill in the hours between the final bell of school and the parent’s last hour of work -- is not an option.
“Unfortunately, we’re not licensed for after-school care,” Sorenson said. “Unless we made some modifications to the building we’re not able to offer after-school care here.”
Niles said an option would be to enclose the outdoor pavilion, at a cost of about $65,000, and Y officials are hopeful to find sponsors to help with such an effort. They note that the Brandon Y is within about four miles of seven elementary schools -- Yates, Seffner, Lopez, Mango, Colson, Limona and Schmidt -- and two middle schools, Mann and McLane.
The Brandon Y currently works with Seffner Elementary to provide after-school programs on the school’s site (the school, at 109 Cactus Road, is essentially across the street from the Brandon Y).
But to extend the Y's efforts on site would take a larger investment.
“The biggest issue with our building is we don’t have the necessary changing areas [for after-school certification],” Niles said. “Our locker rooms are in a common area.”
The Y officials noted, too, that for safety reasons, children ages 12 and under are required to be accompanied by a parent or a guardian when they spend time at the Brandon Family YMCA.
Transportation is another key issue, Niles said.
“We don’t have readily available the means to get the kids from their schools to this location,” she added. Niles noted that a vehicle to provide such transportation would be included in plans for a covered pavilion.