Last Tuesday, third-grader Tania couldn’t stop smiling — or dancing or building or engineering. That’s because it was the day of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD)’s first city-wide Bring Your Dad to Afterschool celebration — and The Child Center’s COMPASS afterschool program at P.S. 89 in Elmhurst, where Tania is a daily participant, was selected by DYCD as a model site to implement the event.
It was the first time Tania got to show her dad what afterschool, where she spends 15 hours a week, is really like. “I was happy my Papi was with me because I love him so much,” Tania said. “We danced and made a little robot car.”
For years, schools across New York State have participated in the national Dads Take Your Children to School Day, but as children like Tania can tell you, afterschool is as much a part of their daily life as the regular school day is. It’s where children receive quality homework help, build friendships, interact with relatable role models, and engage in enrichment activities (like STEM or performing arts) that encourage their strengths.
The goal of Bring Your Dad to Afterschool is to get fathers more involved in this significant part of their children’s day. According to DYCD, studies show that when fathers and father figures are involved in activities with children, there is a marked improvement for children behaviorally, educationally, physically, and emotionally.
The day lived up to all expectations. It began with words of welcome from DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong and P.S. 89 Principal La Sala, which were followed by an informative workshop for the dads.
The highlight for both kids and dads was the time they spent working together on grade-level STEM activities. The children were proud of their creations — which ranged from cars to a protective sleeve that keeps cookies from breaking — and especially that they’d made them together with their dads.
“I was excited my Papi was there to help me build Legos,” said first-grader Joshua G. “I want him to come back!”
Fathers, too, were moved by the event, to the point that one dad stood up to give an impromptu speech. “He really touched everyone by saying how much it meant to him to be at the event and share this special time with his daughter and the community we have here,” says Frances Keogan, Senior Program Director and Literacy Manager. “It was an honor to emphasize how much fathers do to support their children.”
The Child Center’s Vice President of Youth Development, Nick Ferreira, agrees. “When kids see their dads valuing what they do every day, it makes them feel valued and important.”
Ferreira also notes that one of the reasons our P.S. 89 program was selected for this event is its commitment to engaging families throughout the year, and our record of excellence in afterschool programming: In 2018, 100% of our COMPASS afterschool program evaluations for elementary school students exceeded DYCD’s standards.
“It’s a testament to our extraordinary staff, who contribute every day to our students’ success,” Ferreira says. “Congratulations to Fran, Program Director Elisa Pimentel, Assistant Director Christine Rivera, and the rest of the COMPASS at P.S. 89 team!”