2006 Regular Session
By: Representative Fleming
AN ACT TO CREATE A TASK FORCE TO BE KNOWN AS THE "MISSISSIPPI AFTER-SCHOOL INITIATIVE TASK FORCE" TO DEVELOP A PLAN TO ENSURE QUALITY AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS FOR EVERY SCHOOL-AGE CHILD IN THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
WHEREAS, current studies about what happens to unsupervised children indicate that when left alone, these children have higher absentee rates at school, have lower academic test scores, exhibit higher levels of fear, stress, nightmares, loneliness and boredom, are one and seven-tenths (1-7/10) times more likely to use alcohol and are one and six-tenths (1-6/10) times more likely to smoke cigarettes; and
WHEREAS, recent data shows that in several communities throughout the United States, the violent juvenile crime rate soars in the hours immediately after the school bell rings and children are most likely to be victims of a violent crime committed by a nonfamily member between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.; and
WHEREAS, research indicates that children who attend high quality after-school programs have better peer relations, emotional adjustment, conflict resolution skills, grades and conduct in school compared to their peers who are not in after-school programs; and
WHEREAS, children who attend after-school programs spend more time in learning opportunities, academic activities and enrichment activities and spend less time watching television than their peers; and
WHEREAS, in one (1) study, children who attended an after-school program missed fewer days of school, had better homework completion, better school behavior and higher test scores; and
WHEREAS, polls show that ninety-two percent (92%) of Americans believe there should be organized activities for children and teens during after-school hours; and
WHEREAS, polls show that seventy-five percent (75%) of Americans are ready to either pay more taxes or to forego a tax cut to provide children with good early childhood development programs and quality after-school programs; and
WHEREAS, as working parents can attest, child care concerns are not over once children are old enough to go to school: a parent who is employed full time can be away from home an average of two thousand four hundred (2,400) hours a year, and children spend less than half of that time in school; if their children participate in a quality school-age care program or another organized out-of-school time activity, parents can rest easy because they know that their children are safe and supervised; NOW, THEREFORE,
SECTION 1. (1) There is created a task force to be known as the "Mississippi After-School Initiative Task Force" to develop a plan to ensure quality after-school programs for every school-age child in the State of Mississippi. The task force shall make a report of its findings and recommendations to the Legislature by December 1, 2006, including any recommended legislation.
(2) The members of the task force should represent several diverse areas including, but not limited to, violence prevention, parents, park districts, special need populations, private foundations, civic and cultural organizations, community-based youth service providers, law enforcement, education, local voluntary organizations, faith-based communities, health, research institutions, child and youth advocacy, alcohol, tobacco and substance abuse prevention and mental health. The task force shall be composed of the following seventeen (17) members:
(a) The State Superintendent of Public Education;
(b) The Executive Director of the Department of Human Services;
(c) The Executive Officer of the State Department of Health;
(d) The Chairman of the House of Representatives Education Committee;
(e) The Chairman of the Senate Education Committee; and
(f) Four (4) persons from each of the three (3) Supreme Court districts to be appointed by the Governor, for a total of twelve (12) members;
(3) Appointments shall be made within thirty (30) days after the effective date of this act, and, within fifteen (15) days thereafter on a day to be designated by the Governor, the task force shall meet and organize.
(4) The task force shall make an assessment of the after-school services in this state, including identification of the number of children and youth served in after-school programs; identification of the various funding programs currently supporting after-school programs; and the development of a plan for coordinating after-school services and for achieving a goal of providing after-school services for every school-age child in the State of Mississippi.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2006.