The after-school program at the Boys & Girls Club of the Beaufort area won't start for another month because the nonprofit organization is low on money, even after cutting back its summer program.
The club hopes to resume its after-school care Sept. 24. Most of the club's 12-person staff is on furlough until then.
One person said her grandchild didn't find out the program's start would be delayed until announcements were made at her school Monday, the first day of class. That left her daughter scrambling to find after-school care for the child.
The decision to delay the start of after-school care was made earlier this month, and Boys & Girls Club staff tried to notify its clients beforehand, according to Chris Protz, executive director of the club's parent organization, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry.
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However, the club was not able to reach every client family.
"I certainly understand the predicament families are in. I've been in the same one," Protz said. "It's unfortunate, but it's something we can't avoid because we just don't have the resources to open."
About 150 students in kindergarten through 12th grade typically attend the program, which offers homework help, snacks and activities at a low cost to families, Protz said. The program costs the club about $9,600 a week, mostly in salaries and operational costs, Protz said. Families are charged for the program according to their ability to pay, but those fees don't cover the club's costs, Protz said.
A few other nonprofit groups offer after-school care, Beaufort County School District officials said.
The Wardle Family YMCA provides a similar program for children 4 years old through eighth grade and still has space available, operations director Kaylin Garst said. That program costs about $50 per week, and transportation from several public schools is provided.
Garst didn't know if the program has received an influx of students who usually attend the Boys & Girls Club program.
School district spokesman Jim Foster said Beaufort County Parks and Leisure Services also offers after-school care. Buses from Broad River and Joseph S. Shanklin elementary schools provide transportation to that program, which costs $75 per month, according to the PALS website.
It's not clear if space is still available in the Beaufort program; attempts Tuesday to reach PALS officials were unsuccessful.
Some schools provide tutoring after school, Foster said, but in most cases, students have to be recommended for it.
The delayed start for the Boys & Girls Club program follows a summer of cutbacks; it served only about 80 children in its summer program, half the typical number.
In April, Protz said the organization had a three-year plan to replenish its savings. In the past three years, it has overspent on operations, staff and programs and taken about $1 million out of savings. It also failed to meet revenue goals for the past three or four years, Protz said Tuesday.
Protz said a fundraising drive with a target of $200,000 by Sept. 30 so far has netted just $100,000. People are still giving, but not as much as in previous years because of the bad economy, Protz said.
"We need people to step forward to help us secure funding and support our operations," he said. "If this is such a valuable thing for parents, where are they? I don't mean that in a negative way. ... If you want services at a reasonable cost that's different than day care, then that has to be supported in some manner."
Protz also said the Beaufort club's board needs members. It has eight and should have about 25, Protz said.
The goal, Protz said, is to keep the club's doors open.
"We've got to do some decision-making that helps make that club stable for the long-term," he said.