Tara began attending a United Way funded after-school program when she was 8 years old. In the beginning, she struggled academically. But during her elementary school years, her grades steadily improved and she exuded confidence.
Tara’s parents work multiple jobs, and by the time she was in middle school she was the oldest of six children. She received mixed messages at home: while her parents understood the importance of education, they also needed her to care of her siblings and to cook and clean. She felt the burden of the daily financial challenges faced by her family, and her many responsibilities began to weigh on her. Unfortunately, during her sophomore and junior years of high school, the challenges became overwhelming. She began to make bad choices in terms of boyfriends and drug use, and she stopped attending the after-school program.
The program staff and director became very concerned about Tara’s future; they worried that she would drop out of high school or even endanger her health and safety. They kept in touch with Tara and her parents, and thanks to their persistence, she is back on track. After the staff met with her parents, they gained a better understanding of the level of responsibility Tara should have to bear. The after-school program helped her get her CNA certification during the summer and supported her through the college application process her senior year. The staff report that they “began to see the spark in her eye and passion again for life and school.”
United Way of Western Connecticut understands that after-school programs can make a huge difference in the lives of children and youth in our community. That’s why we provide funding to make after-school care more affordable for 2,500 kids, ages 5 to 18, in low-income and ALICE families. These high-quality programs help keep teens out of trouble during the “danger hours” between 3 pm and 6 pm. Donors like you help keep teens like Tara on the path to success.