AFTER-SCHOOL ACTIVITY PROGRAM (A.S.A.P.)
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The After-School Activityís Program (A.S.A.P.) began in 1996 as a cooperative effort between the Principal of Oleander Elementary School and Department School Resource Officer. The program has been functioning for two years and operates on six week sessions. Officers, police department explorers, and student athletes that are involved in the department Cops N Jocks Program meet with Oleander Elementary School students after school three times a week from 2:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Each session is made up of 20 students. The programs begin with 30 minutes of homework, two hours of group support, sports, games, videos, reading and other activities. The students are assisted in all activities by a combination of police and volunteer personnel.
Two Fontana Police Officers and a Fontana Unified School District Police Officer staff the program and each officer works one night a week. Police department explorers and high school students involved in the police departments, Cops N Jocks Program assists them. The school principal is directly involved in the program and assists the officers.
Officers and school officials in conjunction with area businesses have held several weekend presentations at local apartment complexes to advertise a program in an attempt to get parents interested in the program. These events are held in a carnival type atmosphere where local businesses make presentations and give away free prizes to children. Fifteen hundred people have attended these road show programs so far.
The parents of the children who are enrolled in A.S.A.P. are required to commit to a contract which includes parent participation. The parents must agree to attend one training session put on by the school district and one session put on by the police department in order to enroll their children in the program. The police departmentís volunteer service coordinator generally puts on the police department program and talks about available programs such as Neighborhood Watch. The school district program generally includes speakers from local social welfare agencies discussing possible assistance programs with parents. The program has been so popular that there are still 200 children on the waiting list for future sessions.
2. When was the program created and why?
The A.S.A.P. program is essentially an after school mentor program which stresses police officers working with at-risk elementary school youths in order to reduce violence and improve the quality of life in the area surrounding the Oleander Elementary School. The A.S.A.P. program was developed as part of an overall strategy that dealt simultaneously with several identified problems in or around the school.
Oleander Elementary School is located in an area of high-density multi-unit apartment complexes. Ninety percent of the students attending Oleander Elementary School live in one of the adjoining apartment complexes. For several years the school has had a significant program involving vandalism and violence on school campus, disciplinary problems, and a noticeable increase in activity associated with gang and narcotics around the school. Because of transient nature of the student population, they have had to deal with annual turnover rates in their student body as high as 120 percent.
The vandalism committed on campus was predominately done after-school. The nature of the vandalism (broken windows and graffiti) made it appear that it was done by elementary to middle school age children. The type of vandalism more or less signified boredom and a lack of things for children to do in the neighborhood. The fencing surrounding the school was dilapidated and in need of repair. The fence on the west side of the school had been cut allowing easy access to the school grounds and was often used as a short cut by near-by residents. Another issue was a lack of parks or other recreational activity centers in the vicinity of the school or apartment complexes. Without the availability of a near-by recreational facility, the youth in the surrounding area had come up with their own recreation which often involved some form of criminal activity either by direct involvement or association.
The plan included developing working relationships with several other city departments. The departmentís school resource officer, Shawn Hare, and the Oleander Elementary School principal, Steve Desist, decided to bring additional problems to the attention of the cityís Community Policing Advisory Committee in order to enhance the A.S.A.P. program. That committee is made up of members of the Fontana Police Department, Parks and Recreation, Housing and Community Development, Code Compliance, Fontana Unified School District, a representative of the area apartment communities, the President of the City Chamber of Commerce and a representative from a local community based organization. With the assistance of that committee, several other problems in and around the school were addressed. The school district and the city agreed jointly to pay for improved fencing. The school district agreed to use grant money to improve athletic facilities at school and the City Parks and Recreation Department sponsored a T-Ball League for area children. The cityís mobile recreation van also puts on programs at the school twice each week.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
The short term goals of the program are as follows:
The long term goals of the program are as follows:
It is impossible to analyze the long term impact of the program at such an early stage. We have found that most of the short term goals have been met. Children attending the program are 74 percent likely to miss school and 84 percent likely to be late for class after attending the program then before. This shows improvement in behavior of the children and suggest that parents are taking a more assertive role by insuring their children go to school and do so on time.
The following graph demonstrates a reduction in discipline referrals over the last three years of the school. Most of those referrals were for fighting, vandalism, and other disruptive behavior. This graph shows a reduction in vandalism, fighting, and other disruptive behaviors since the A.S.A.P. program was initiated. Disciplinary referrals have declined significantly since the program has been operating. During the year prior to the start of the A.S.A.P. program (1995-1996), the school issued a total of 885 student referrals. During the first year of the program (1996-1997), the school issued 210 referrals, and during the second year (1997-1998), the school issued only 190 student referrals. This graph is based on the total number of incidents, and we should note that the number of students in the 1997/1998 school year increased by 25 percent over the previous year. These statistics show a significant difference in student behavior that can be attributed to a noticeable reduction in violence and vandalism at the school. We have also received positive support from both parents and teachers about the improvement of the students and their childrenís behavior not only in school, but also out of the school since the program has been in place.
Another unintended result of the program is the effect on the participation of juvenile volunteers. We have found that explorers and student athletes who participate in the program are improving their own performance in school by tutoring the younger children. In one situation, the high school coaching staff recommended a high school junior involved in the Cops N Jocks Program due to his marginal academic performance. With his participation in the A.S.A.P. program, his attitude toward school, and his grades significantly improved during his senior year.
4. How is the program financed?
Officers working are mentors under the program and do so either voluntarily on their own time or by being reassigned from other duties. Everyone else who participates in the program does so on a voluntary basis. The after school activity program itself has not lead to the expenditure of any public funds. The other improvements done in and around the school in conjunction with the after school program, were paid for using existing resources from the Parks and Recreation Department, plus donations from area businesses and various grant funding to both the city and the school district.
5. How is the community involved in the program/how has the community responded to the program?
Numerous area businesses have participated by donating free materials and services used in the road show portion of the program. Apartment area apartment complexes have also allowed their facilities to be used for that portion of the program. Numerous teenagers involved in other police department youth programs have volunteered their time to help younger children in the A.S.A.P. program. This program has been well received by teachers and parents and is extremely popular. The fact that there is still over 200 children on the waiting list for a program that requires parental supervision would seem to indicate that the program has been extremely well received in the community.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.