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Short-staffed SCASD program leaves hundreds of parents scrambling to find after-school care for their children for the fall

Outside of the newly renovated Spring Creek Elementary School.
Brittany Krugel
/
WPSU
Spring Creek Elementary School is one of the SCASD schools that offers the Community Education Extended Learning Program, or CEEL.

The State College Area School District's Community Education Extended Learning Program, or CEEL, after-school program is struggling to find enough staff members for all the children who need care for the fall.

SCASD said for 2022-23 the CEEL program has a waitlist of around 200 students; 555 applied.

The district used a lottery system this year, which it says is a more equitable process.

Shannon Messick is the Community Education Coordinator for the district. She said post-pandemic demand is causing the stress.

“Everybody keeps talking about the return to normal, it feels that’s where we are as far as the demand for the program," Messick said. "But we are far from that when it comes to being able to staff at appropriate levels for the need.”

Messick said the shortage is creating a struggle for parents, who need someone to watch their children for the last hours of the workday. She said the district is trying hard to add more staff.

“Whatever folks can come up with to try to spread the word that we’re hiring and it’s a great place to work," Messick said. "I think the fact we have a lot of people, students and staff that come back year after year is a testament to that, so we’re looking for the community to come together and help us any way that they can.”

Messick says the program was in a similar situation near its inception, but her team found staff then. That gives her hope for this year.

Anyone interested in a job with the CEEL program can apply on the SCASD website.

Logan Groeneveld-Meijer is a radio news intern for WPSU. He is a sophomore at Penn State University majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in Spanish.