Free after-school program ends at some schools in Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Child care can be expensive. So when a free service ends on September 30 for some families in Portsmouth, they are left to figure out what to do next.

“It was one of the biggest reliefs I’ve had as a single mum to know that Parks and Rec offered this after-school program,” said Portsmouth parent Catherine Zinsner.

Zinsner has a second year pupil in Portsmouth State Schools. The relief she had turned into stress because she found out on Monday that the free after-school program would no longer be offered. Zinsner learned of the change through an email from PPS, not Parks and Rec.

“My stomach dropped because now I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Zinsner said. “I have to scramble to figure out where I can send him.”

10 On Your Side contacted PPS and Parks & Rec. PPS said it was unclear whether Parks and Rec planned to run a full-service after-school program at Churchland Elementary, Churchland Primary & Intermediate and Park View.

After the first week of classes, PPS said staff immediately contacted the program manager to let him know they would have to close their program by the end of September.

Parks and Rec said on August 25 that its staff had received confirmation from Portsmouth Public School operations staff that their application to operate a recreation scheme, “School House Rec.”, had been approved for Churchland Elementary, Churchland Primary, Parkview Elementary, Brighton Elementary, Cradock Primary and Waterview Primary.

Parks and Rec said it was told on September 13 that its program was to be halted in schools. Pre-existing contracts were in place with AlphaBest on September 13.

“I don’t know where the ball was dropped there, but everyone lost communication,” Zinsner. “Lost everything and then there are parents left to pick up all the pieces.”

The AlphaBest program offers financial assistance, however, Zinsner said after working two jobs, she does not meet the qualifications.

“I have people who can help me, but I know there are other families who don’t,” Zinsner said. “I only have one child, but what about people who have two, three or four who are in this program?”

PPS said it would make sure to work directly with Parks and Recreation staff to confirm program site selection before the start of the year.