FIRST LADY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
REMARKS AT THE SCHOOL GRANTS EVENT
THE WHITE HOUSE
JUNE 17, 1998
Thank you all, please be seated...The President is honored to welcome all of you, and I join that, in welcoming you to the Rose Garden. Today we take another step forward in ensuring that the end of the school day never means the end of learning and safety for our children. There are many people here today, and many, many more throughout the country who have helped make this day possible. I particularly want to thank Attorney General Reno, who has made prevention an effective weapon in our fight against juvenile crime. Secretary Riley, for all he does to ensure that children learn with high expectations and without fear. We are also privileged to be joined by members of Congress. In the audience there is Senator Kohl, Senator Baden, Representative Woolsey, Representative Cardin, Representative Harold Ford Jr., Representative Lofgren and Representative Baldacci. I want to thank all of them not only for being here but for understanding that it's essential that we give our children something positive to do and provide them with supervision after the school hours are done.
We are especially pleased to have the two members of Congress who are here on the podium with us, the champion of the 21st century school, Senator Jeffords, and Congressman Boswell, who has been making a concerted effort in his district, in Iowa, to speak with citizens throughout the district about what is happening with out children and what we need to do to try to help. We're also joined by Baltimore Police Chief Tom Frasier who's success in Baltimore is providing a model for the nation, and Gloria Nava, whose going to share with us what these programs mean to children and families. Also here, there are countless community leaders who are using the power of after-school programs to crack down on crime and lift up children. We're here because we know what works to help prevent crime, whether it's adult crime or juvenile crime. We've seen a dramatic decrease in the crime rate because of the actions that have been taken in our country at the federal, state, and local level both by government and by private citizens over the last several years.
But we also know that we're not doing enough to provide the help and supervision that our children need. You know, 3:00 in the afternoon means different things to different people. But for many parents in America, it is great wake up call to be worried about what is happening with their children. Because, those parents are at work and their children are just getting out of school. 28 million school children now have both parents, or one parent, in the work force. Each week there are at least 5 million, and perhaps as many as 15 million children left unsupervised. We often call them "latch key" kids, but that assumes they're safely inside their house, with the keys in the lock, and that's not always the case at all. We also know that young people are most likely to commit a crime, or become a victim of crime, between the hours of 2 pm and 8 pm, after they leave school and before their parents return home.
Well, we need to do better than that. Instead of permitting parents to worry without any ability to do anything about it, or seeing these after-school hours as a time to fear, we should see them instead as a window of opportunity. That's what today's announcements are all about and that's what this report co-authored by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Education is all about called, "Safe and Smart, Making the After-School Hours Work for Kids."
I have seen in communities across this country when we do just that. I've been in classrooms in Harlem where students are writing "I Have a Dream" essays, and being helped to reach those dreams because of a YMCA program that goes right into the New York City Schools. I've visited with Americorps volunteers who are mentoring and tutoring children after school, I've met with police officers in Chicago and all over the country who tell me as they tell all of you that to avoid locking up children tomorrow, we have to show them a different way of living today. At the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia, I listened to young Marines tell me how they rely on after-school programs located right there on the base. I just visited a public school based program in Danville, California called "Kid's Country" that was started by an entire community. Parents even took out mortgages on their houses to finance it because they knew how important it was to their children.
So, today we've got to take the next step, and our next speaker is working hard to make sure that this country responds to the needs that we're hearing from every corner of our nation from children and their families. He has, as I've said, really spent a lot of time trying to understand what the best things are that we can do and he's working hard to make sure that the voices of children and families are heard. He understands that in order to prevent juvenile crime we have to give children something to say yes to in safe supervised setting. It is now my great honor to introduce Congressman Leonard Boswell. (Applause)