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Staffing issues curtail Safekey before and after school programs

Updated August 16, 2021 - 6:16 am

Staffing shortages are plaguing programs that provide before- and after-school supervision for children in Clark County, preventing some from providing the critical service and leaving fewer slots available at others.

Las Vegas Valley municipalities and the Clark County Parks and Recreation Department run the Safekey programs, which offer crafts, games and special activities at Clark County School District elementary schools.

The city of Las Vegas operates the Safekey program at 63 elementary schools. Several sites — Crestwood, Griffith, Kelly and Tobler elementary schools — aren’t yet up and running this school year because of a lack of workers.

“For the city of Las Vegas we have had staffing shortages for Safekey, and that impacts capacity at our sites,” city spokesman Jace Radke said via email.

Registration is open for Tobler Elementary, and the site was expected to open Monday, Radke said Wednesday.

The Crestwood and Griffith sites still aren’t open, “but we continue to work with the administrations at those schools,” he said.

Kelly has alternative programming that fills the void left by the delayed Safekey reopening, Radke said.

Parents can register their child for Safekey at a specific school and for specific days through the city’s program.

Damaris Mendoza said she was only able to sign up her second-grade son for after-school care through Safekey on the first day of classes last week at Bozarth Elementary School in northwest Las Vegas.

She said a Safekey staffer told her that because of a labor shortage and COVID-19 safety protocols, she couldn’t sign up for more days.

Mendoza said the family used Safekey before the pandemic and didn’t encounter any difficulties with availability.

Mendoza signed up to send her son to a day care center that provides after-school care and provides transportation. But it’s significantly more expensive than the city’s Safekey program, which costs families $7 for each morning and $10 for each afternoon session.

In the meantime, she plans to continue to check back to see if any additional Safekey slots open up for future dates.

The city is hiring part-time Safekey site leaders and assistants. The positions are 19-25 hours a week, and the pay is $12-$14 per hour.

Workers must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. They also must have first aid and CPR certification by their start date.

Other Safekey programs

The county recreation department operates the Safekey program in 89 schools. As of Thursday, 33 were at capacity for afternoons and 21 were full for the morning program.

“Low staff numbers due to an unfavorable recruitment turnout this year has not helped,” department spokesman Richard Mueller said in an email. “We are still recruiting staff for the program, and as soon as we will have the ability, we will continue to take more participants at sites with high demand.”

There is a note on the county’s Safekey website that says, “Due to staffing issues, Safekey spots are limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis.”

Other local municipalities don’t seem to be experiencing the same degree of staffing shortages, though.

Safekey sites operated by Henderson are fully staffed, and there aren’t waiting lists, city spokeswoman Kathleen Richards said this month. More than 600 children are registered.

North Las Vegas operates 21 sites, and there aren’t waiting lists at any of them, spokeswoman Sandy Lopez said.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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