By Katie Landes, Director of GSAN
2016 is almost over! It has been a big year for afterschool in Georgia and for us here at the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network. As we look ahead to 2017, I wanted to take a moment and share just some of the highlights of the last year:
The 2016 Georgia Afterschool and Youth Development Conference was a huge success! Over 600 people attended the three-day conference in Columbus, GA. It featured 70 breakout sessions, 38 exhibitors, three keynotes, and, of course, 600 Hawaiian leis. Special thanks to the Division of Family and Children Services and the Georgia Departments of Education and Public Health for making it happen, and our amazing co-coordinator GUIDE, Inc!
Georgia placed third in the national Zero Robotics Summer Competition! For the fourth year, GSAN coordinated the five-week summer program in Georgia that gives middle school students hands-on experience programming SPHERES (Synchronized Position, Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satelittes). Students from the six participating programs from across Georgia came to Georgia Tech for fun-filled events including the field day and final competition livestreamed with the International Space Station where Georgia placed third!
Georgia’s Lights on Afterschool Day keeps getting better! In Georgia, over 200 afterschool programs celebrated the importance afterschool plays in lives of Georgia’s youth on October 20th. A host of others also recognized Lights on Afterschool Day including the Georgia State Government and the GaDOE. At GSAN, we partnered with two programs, Girls, Inc. of Greater Atlanta and STAR House Foundation, to celebrate the important work they do in Marietta and Roswell, GA!
It was a great year for kid-friendly policy in Georgia! Several bills passed that will help keep Georgia’s youth safe, healthy, educated, and connected to their family and community. Legislative wins at the state level included passing a budget with pay raises for many child-serving state employees and additional funding for juvenile court lawyers and child welfare workers, continuing to lead the nation in juvenile justice reform efforts, and passing legislation prioritizing kinship placement when a child’s parents are not able to care for them.
GSAN grew! In June, GSAN welcomed Gail Ledezma-Smith to the new position of Senior Manager of Outreach and Quality Initiatives. It has been such a pleasure having Gail join our small team and already help grow the network. I also welcomed my first child, Molly, in August! It was great spending a few months at home with her, but I am excited to be getting back to work.
Other highlights include the release of GSAN’s map, the increased utilization of the Georgia Afterschool and Youth Development Quality Standards, and getting to meet more providers such as yourself at workshops, conferences, and events across the state.
It has been a quite an exciting year here at GSAN and 2017 is gearing up to be even better. Make sure you are subscribed to our newsletter for up-to-date news on policy, the Georgia ASYD Quality Standards, and upcoming events!