The Milton Family Community Center (MFCC) is using state grant money to expand services in its afterschool and summer programs for next year.
MFCC executive director Sophia Donforth said the center is not only starting to see the fruits of a $10,000 grant awarded in December, but the organization is receiving an additional $70,000 from the Afterschool & Summer Expanding Access program. Grant.
The money from this grant that is attached to their Summer MASK program and throughout the next school year, will be used to expand staff, in part to allow more children to be able to use the program, but also to reduce the student-to-staff ratio, Donforth said.
“What we’ve discovered this year is that it makes a huge difference. If we can have the kids in small groups in terms of the real connection between them and with the staff members,” Donforth said. “We really find that the children need it.”
After two hard years of pandemic learning and the stressors facing families, the center is trying to create a space everyone wants to be in: where everyone has a friend and trusted adult in their corner, a- she declared.
Donforth said the money would be spent throughout the coming year. The grant will also allow them to reduce tuition for the summer program, making it more accessible to families in need of child care.
Funded with federal dollars guaranteed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the grant program awarded a total of $4.23 million to 39 different programs in the state.
“After more than two years of this terrible pandemic, it is no secret that young people in particular have faced struggles that we are only beginning to understand,” Senator Sanders said in a press release. “Now more than ever, young Vermonters need and deserve summer opportunities that are both fun and rewarding.”
In addition to that money, Donforth said work is underway to use the $10,000 grant the center received in December from the Farm to School and Early Childhood Grant through the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. .
This grant will be used to continue nutrition education and expand the center’s food shelf.
The MCFF children are now spending time in their garden, planting things that will then be served as part of the food program and they will be taking trips to local farms to learn where their food comes from.
Donforth said the interaction between the focus on staff expansion for students’ social and emotional well-being and the expansion of the nutrition program for students’ physical health will work very well.
“It’s a really nice, all-encompassing approach,” she said.