By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Today, a majority of households are two-income households, and stay-at-home moms are decreasing in number. How does one manage a household when the school bell rings at 3 p.m., but work beckons for more time at the office?
This is the question parents tried to answer with after-school programming in the ’70s. Almost 40 years have passed since the Community After School Program opened its doors in Norman, yet the demand for after-school child care is greater than ever.
To kick off a 40-day countdown to Community After School Program’s 40-year celebration, community members were invited to an open house Tuesday morning. Board members and staff were available to answer questions, while attendees could browse a historical documents display chronicling the organization and a student art display titled “What I Like About CASP.”
The Community After School Program began in 1974 after a concerned group of parents decided there should be an affordable after-school program option for their children.
CASP is a nonprofit that partners with and receives funding from several organizations, including AmeriCorps, the United Way of Norman and the city of Norman.
Currently, the Community After School Program has 100 staff members, including administration, and serves a little more than 650 students from all Norman schools. All-day programming also is offered on holidays and during the summer.
Terri Craig, CASP executive director, said this year, the organization is looking to enrich the quality of their programs.
“We would really like to continue to add educational activities,” Craig said.
The organization offers a Be Fit program — which began in 2007 — at nine Norman Public Schools and a Be Smart program — which began in 2008 — at all 17 Norman Public Schools.
The Be Fit program focuses on health and nutrition and provides weekly nutrition lessons and 30 minutes daily of physical, non-competitive activity and a healthy snack.
The Be Smart program is a literacy tutoring program that provides 30 minutes of tutoring twice a week.
Additionally, the nonprofit started a Homework Club two years ago for third- through fifth-graders at Kennedy and Wilson elementaries. Two times a week, students can work on their homework with a tutor.
Brenda Birdsong, director of child services, said parents should consider CASP as an option because all CASP activities occur on site at the child’s school.
“There is no need for transportation,” she said. “Students can stay comfortable in a familiar environment.”
Craig, whose son attended CASP before she joined the organization, said in her experience as both a parent and director, she has always been impressed by the staff.
“Our staff is amazing,” Craig said. “Most of our staff is made up of college students who are education, child services or psychology majors, so they really care about the students.”
Children in CASP shared praise for their teachers in the “What I Like About CASP” display. One Lakeview Elementary student, Alaina, wrote that her favorite thing about CASP was everything.
Another Lakeview Elementary student, Gregory, wrote, “That all the CASP mebers (sic) and staf (sic) are nice to me. I have made meny (sic) friends. CASP has been trooly (sic) the best experience ever. I want to stay here forever.”
The Community After School Program will host its 40-year celebration from 4 to 6 p.m. March 1 at Crosspointe Church. The event is open to the public and will have hot dogs, a bouncy house and small carnival games for attendees.
CASP accepts volunteers and donations. Individuals may volunteer weekly with Be Fit or Be Smart or volunteer with the organization one time.
For more information, visit caspinc.org or call 573-3512. To donate, visit caspinc.org and click on the “donate” button.
CASP will post a fun fact about the organization daily, which can be seen on the organization’s social media sites, like Facebook, leading up to the celebration.
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