OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Advocates for youth and critical programs outside of school are in Olympia today for Youth Development Advocacy Day. Organizations that provide mentoring, case management and expanded learning programs after school and in the summer are letting lawmakers know the importance of their programs for empowering young people.
Elizabeth Kohl is chief operating office with Housing Hope, a program in Everett that provides wraparound services for homeless families. She said the kids they work with get educational support and have a place to go while their parents look for jobs and housing.
"It's also really important that the kids find positive mentoring relationships that help the children build that self-confidence in themselves: other people, besides their parents, in their life telling them that they're worthy, that they're going to become something," Kohl said.
Kohl said Housing Hope emphasizes getting kids to attend school because it greatly increases their chances of graduating. She said quality programs help kids understand the significance of academics.
"Those kids then value and see the importance of the education, and then you'll see that show up in their commitment to attending school," she said. "And that's why those programs are so important - they work hand-in-hand with the educational system."
In Washington state, more than 180,000 kids are enrolled in after-school programs and more than 330,000 are waiting for an available program, according to the Afterschool Alliance.