Burlington Township Board of Education approves change in before- and after-school care for elementary schools

The district will be moving ahead with plans to partner with Wee Kids EHEP Services for B. Bernice Young and Fountain Woods Elementary Schools.

At its May 22 public action session, the Burlington Township Board of Education approved a recommendation from the Office of the Superintendent to make a change to the provider of the before- and after-care programs at the B. Bernice Young and Fountain Woods elementary schools.

The proposed change requested approval from the board to replace the district’s current provider of before and after care, YMCA, with Wee Kids EHEP (extended hour enrichment program) Services.

Prior to the public session meeting, in an email sent to district parents, Superintendent Mary Ann Bell notified the public of her intent to make the recommendation at the meeting.

“This letter is to inform our families that I am recommending to the board of education, at their next meeting, a change in the provider of before- and after-school care in Burlington Township Schools. Under my proposal, we will be partnering with Wee Kids for our Before and After Care programs in our elementary schools beginning in September 2019,” read the email. “We believe this change will allow our families a safe, affordable option for care on our school grounds with a focus that is similar to our beliefs of serving our children well.”

According to information in the email, the Before Care Program will run from 7 a.m. to the start of school in both B. Bernice Young and Fountain Woods elementary schools. The After Care Program will run from the end of school to 6 p.m.

The current preschool program housed in Fountain Woods will continue with the new partnership and will be available to provide care for 3 and 4 year olds from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The email further stated that, after reviewing enrollment data for the middle school program and noting low enrollment for the past 10 years, it has been decided that the option for after care at Burlington Township Middle School at Springside will be discontinued.

Without divulging specifics, Bell did provide a statement on the thought process and impetus behind the switch in her personal update from the meeting.

“It is not easy to end partnerships, however, the board was made aware of some students and safety matters during executive sessions that prompted my action,” said Bell.

The superintendent declined a request for clarification as the matters in question involved students currently enrolled in the district.

She assured parents of the care employed in selecting Wee Kids as the new provider of before- and after-school programs, noting that she herself worked in the field, and brought this experience into the decision-making process.

“My experience includes operating a district-run program for before and after care in a former district. I concluded this was not the best option for our schools based on my experience and knowledge of the needs of such an operation and our current needs as a district,” said Bell.

After she determined that it had become necessary to seek out a new partnership, Bell located providers currently operating in other school districts. She made her recommendation to the board for a partnership with Wee Kids after interviewing a number of other potential providers.

For more information on Wee Kids EHEP Services, including enrollment forms, rates and the parent handbook, visit weekidselc.com and click on the Burlington Township EHEP link under the Programs tab.