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March 14, 2013

Y program debuts today at W. Parish

GLOUCESTER — Two weeks after the city’s abrupt shutdown of the after-school program at the West Parish School, a new version of the program, run and staffed by the Cape Ann YMCA, begins today at the West Gloucester elementary school.

Brian Flynn, the interim Director of Operations at the Cape Ann Y, said the new program has some differences from the previous one.

For one thing, the program is licensed by state Department of Early Education and Care, similar to Y-run after-school programs that have been in place at East Gloucester Elementary School and Veterans Memorial School since 2011. The previous program, run by three supervisors and a substitute who worked for the school district, did not have a state license — and Superintendent of Schools Richard Safier noted Wednesday that a license is not required.

The state Department of Education, however, lists some guidelines to obtaining a license, such as a training in first-aid CPR, specialized training in child development, and background checks in addition to healthy and safe activities and a minimum ratio of supervisors to students.

Flynn said the program has a supervisor to student ratio of 1 to 13, but similar programs hosted by the YMCA often have staffing levels above state standards, listed as a ratio of 1 to 10.

The YMCA also has policies that state staff members must have a minimum of two years experience of working with children. Blair Hadley, now 24 and the coordinator of the new program, has been working with the YMCA since she was 16 and has plenty of experience working with children, Flynn said.

The old program, at the most populated of the city’s elementary schools, was shut down immediately on Friday, March 2, in the face of investigations launched by the Gloucester Police Department, the Essex County District Attorney’s office and the state Department of Children and Families.

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