The test of an after-school program was $1: a bill found on the school playground, and returned to its owner after lessons in honesty and compassion.
"We had a little girl who had received some one dollar bills for her birthday, and was showing them to her friends," said Suellen Wilson, director of the Family Y's Prime Time Discovery after-school program. "And another student who had heard her later found a dollar she'd dropped on the ground, took it to a counselor and said `Do you think it's hers?' That made me feel really good."
The Prime Time program, which includes the Family Y's "Character Counts" lessons in honesty and respect, is one of several after-school care programs available in the Augusta-Aiken area. The Richmond County Recreation and Parks Department also offers programs at its community centers, and some academic programs are open through the school board's Title I program.
Most of the programs try to combine free time with structured play and time devoted to school work. Thousands of children are registered every year.
`It's important to parents at work that they not have to worry about children who are home alone," Ms. Wilson said. "They feel so much more comfortable when they know the children are safe and occupied.
Here's a guide to local programs offering after-school care:
Prime Time Discovery (Family Y)
REGISTRATION: Tables set up in participating schools. Unlimited slots available, except for Family Y Wheeler Center, which has 125 slots.
COST:Family Y membership of $20 per year plus $30 per week for all locations except the Wheeler Center, which is $35 per week.
For information: 738-6680, 738-6678
Richmond county prime time
REGISTRATION: Aug. 17.
LOCATIONS: Barton Chapel Elementary, Copeland Elementary, Foreman Elementary, Garrett Elementary, Garrett Elementary, *Glenn Hills Elementary, Goshen Elementary, *Gracewood Elementary, Hephzibah Elementary, *Jamestown Elementary, Lake Forest Hills Elementary, *McBean Elementary, *Meadowbrook Elementary, *Merry Elementary, *Reynolds Elementary, *Rollins Elementary, Southside Elementary, *Tobacco Road Elementary, *Warren Road Elementary, *Wheeless Road Elementary, Wilkinson Garden Elementary, *Windsor Spring Road Elementary
*Has morning and afternoon programs
WITH PICKUP FROM: Collins Elementary, Craig Elementary, C.T. Walker Elementary, Hornsby Elementary, Immaculate Conception School, Lamar Elementary, Levi White Elementary, Monte Sano Elementary, Terrace Manor Elementary
Columbia County Prime Time
REGISTRATION: At Family Y Wheeler Center, Aug. 9-13, 3-5:30 p.m.
LOCATIONS: Grovetown Elementary Family Y Wheeler Center
WITH PICKUP FROM: Bel Air Elementary, Blue Ridge Elementary, Brookwood Elementary, Evans Elementary, Greenbrier Elementary, Martinez Elementary, Riverside Elementary, South Columbia Elementary, Stevens Creek Elementary, Westmont Elementary
Aiken County Prime Time
LOCATIONS: Aiken Elementary, Belvedere Elementary, Busbee Elementary, Byrd Elementary, Clearwater Elementary, Greendale Elementary, Hammond Hills Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, Lever Elementary, North Aiken Elementary, North Augusta Elementary, Oakwood Windsor Elementary, Redcliffe Elementary, Warrenville Elementary
Richmond County Recreation and Parks Department
Belle Terrace Community Center, 771-2654. Registration Aug. 17. Fee $5 per week, per child; 25 slots.
Blythe Community Center, 592-6730: Program full, accepting names for waiting list. Fees $30 per month for one child, $50 for two, $60 for three or more.
May Park Community Center, 724-0504. Registration Aug. 15. Fee $1 per child, per day; 35 slots.
McBean Community Center, 798-1191. Program full, accepting names for waiting list. Fee $30 per month.
Warren Road Community Center, 860-0986. Registration Aug. 20. Fees $30 per month for one child, $45 for two, $60 for three or more; 60 slots -- usually fills within 30 minutes of 8 a.m. opening.
TITLE I: The Richmond County school system will offer some free academic after-school programs through its Title I program. Call 737-7132 for information.