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Churches fill a need before and after school

Many offer daily care; some offer a drop-in program for just one or two days a week.

With school now in swing, some parents are lining up caregivers for their smaller children for before- and after-school care. Many churches throughout the county have opened their doors to offer programs that might meet your needs.

The programs offer an affordable and secure atmosphere for children before and after school so they have a place to go until their parents or guardians get off work, say program directors. Many programs have been around for several years and have dozens of children who attend every day. Aside from daily care, many churches offer a drop-in program for parents who need a caregiver just one or two days a week.

The programs offer a variety of activities, from Bible stories and crafts to sports and other outside activities. Most offer a homework session and breakfast or an after-school snack.

First Baptist Church of Floral City offers His Care Ministries to local children, which includes a before- and after-school program, the Rev. Michael Thompson said. He said the program grows more popular every school year.

"When I first started pastoring here (less than two years ago), we had about 12 children, and now we have about 51. It's a great program for children that don't have a place to go from 3 p.m. until single parents or moms and dads can get home from work," he said.

He said it is the church's goal to "reach these children for Christ and to give them a good environment to stay in while their parents are working."

Thompson said the before-school program costs $15 per child per week, and the after-school program costs $25 per child per week. Both programs cost $30 per child per week if that option is needed. For information, call 726-4296.

In Inverness, at least three churches are offering programs like these for those who need caregivers.

First Baptist Church of Inverness, for the sixth year, is offering Bible story time, a homework session, crafts and more. The before-school program costs $13 per child per week, and the after-school program costs $20 per child per week. The combined programs cost $33 per child per week. For information, call the church at 726-1252.

First Assembly of God in Inverness also has been offering a child care program for several years. Lindasue Holm, director of the program, said it has been a great success.

"We really load up with children every year. Our goal here is to offer this to the community, share the Bible with them and help the children accomplish the things they need to, like their homework, before Mom and Dad pick them up, so their parents can have quality time with them in the evening," she said.

The cost is $12.50 per child per week for the before-school program and $22 per child per week for the after-school program. The before- and after-school program costs $28 per child per week. For information, call 344-1022.

At Inverness Church of God, the cost is $110 a month for before- and after-school child care, half-days and teacher workdays that the students have off. For information, call 344-5487.

North Oak Baptist Church in Citrus Springs is also offering a program for children.

"We want to be able to offer an affordable, quality program to the community through this. This has grown to be more of a family neighborhood. There really wasn't that much here to offer parents, so that is why this was started," said Tina Sanders, program director.

She said one of her desires for the program is to "tell the children about Jesus. This may be the only place they may ever hear about him."

Sanders said the program includes a Bible story, games, crafts and activities.

She said the before-school program costs $15 per child per week, the after-school program costs $20 per child per week, and both cost $32.50 per child. For information, call 746-1500.

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