A+ fee affects enrollment

LIHUE — Enrollment in the A+ after-school program has decreased on Kauai since the state raised the monthly fee from $85 to $100, in the first of three price hikes.

When the price hike, which went into effect in July, was announced last year, A+ district coordinator Josie Parongao received some less-than-positive feedback from parents whose children were in the program.

“At the end of last year, I heard parents say things like ‘We’re not gonna sign up because of the price hike’ and ‘That’s too expensive’ and stuff like that, but then the parents would look at how much daycare would be and how much they’d actually still save by leaving their kid in the after-school program,” Parongao said. “So parents would come back and see that it’s still a pretty good deal at the end of the day.”

The average cost of child care in the state of Hawaii for school-aged children older than the age of 4 ranges from $7,740 to $7,776 a year, according to a 2016 study by Child Care in America.

In 2017, the after-school program’s monthly fee will increase to $110 and then increase again in 2018 to $120.

Overall, enrollment in the after-school program has decreased since the end of the 2015-16 school year from 569 to 496. But it has differed from school to school, Parongao said.

“Each school’s program has seen change, but it really varies,” Parongao said.

King Kaumualii Elementary School’s enrollment decreased from last year, but the school doesn’t have enough employees for a 20-to-1 ratio this school year, so there are some students on a wait list to enroll in the program, Parongao said.

The A+ program was a free after-school service provided by the state from 1989 until 1996, when the state instituted a monthly fee of $55. Since then, the monthly cost of the program has been increasing in order to reduce the deficit the A+ program and the HIDOE has been in for the past five to six years, Parongao explained.

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