Cost of fall after-school programs hit by tough economy

Parents getting ready to enroll their children in fall after-school programs at the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley are facing sticker shock.

Instead of a flat $75 annual membership cost, there are new tuition fees, effective Aug. 31. For grades 2-5, for example, the new fee is $5 per day, or $75 per month.

Club officials say the charges are necessary because of many factors, including a drop in corporate donations and reductions in grant money from the federal, state and town governments.

“Like many businesses, we knew the economy would have an effect, but not one felt as quickly and strongly as it was,” said Susan Taylor, director of the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley.

Taylor notified parents of the roughly 500 club members about the changes in a newsletter sent out last week.

“What it amounts to – we had been giving away” the programs, said Bob Heaton, vice president of the Board of Directors. “We just can’t do it any more. Grants, corporate donations are down.

“On the other hand, we don’t turn anyone away,” Heaton said. Scholarships are available, based on state standards for family income and number of children.

The club, which is in Milford, has an operating budget of more than $1 million and half of that had come from contributions, grants and other funds, Heaton said.

Fundraising income this year was 17 percent less than budgeted, said Taylor. Contributions are down 15 percent, and grants down 32 percent.