A girl performs classwork.

A girl performs classwork / Photo: (rawstory.com)


How satisfied are you with the quality of care in your child’s afterschool program? Extremely satisfied? Somewhat satisfied? Not satisfied at all?

In a survey done on afterschool programs, nearly 9 in 10 parents stated they were satisfied with the quality of  care in their child’s program. Eighty-four percent of parents stated they were satisfied that the program staff were knowledgeable and well-trained.

In the area of activities offered by their child’s afterschool program, eighty percent said they were satisfied. Parents were happy that their child was excited about learning. However, proposed budget cuts to federal funding for afterschool programs and summer learning programs could be on the horizon and curb their enthusiasm.

On February 3, a bill introduced by a member of the House Education and the
Workforce Committee seeks to replace the 2001 No Child Left Behind law and
eliminate existing programs that provides afterschool and summer learning
programs to over 1.6 million students.

The bill known as the Student Success Act (HR 5) has several child advocates
worried because the bill consolidates more than 65 education programs into a
single grant program. If this bill passes it could lead to more than 1.6 million
students losing access to afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs.
Around 800 program sites in Philadelphia supported through the Afterschool
Activities Partnerships offer activities such as chess, drama, tutoring and homework
help and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Cuts in federal funding
for afterschool programs could be devastating in seen and unseen ways as the
programs help shape a child’s development physically, mentally, and emotionally.

In addition, afterschool programs benefit the community in many ways, such as:

1. Provide children with safe and supervised spaces to play.

More than 15 million students and some 3.7 million middle schoolers are alone
and unsupervised between 3 and 6 p.m. Juvenile crime peaks during this time,
in addition to experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex. Studies
show that afterschool programs help students tackle challenging circumstances
and avoid risky behaviors.

2. Provide children with healthy meals and physical activities.

Afterschool programs offer youth a variety of organized physical activities
and serve healthy afternoon or summer meals and snacks.

3. Provide children with an academically enriching environment.

Afterschool programs assist youth in reading and writing skills and prepare
youth for high school, college, and careers, while keeping them on track and
engaged in middle school.

4. Provide parents with referrals to local agencies or organizations
for assistance or information.

Afterschool programs aid families by providing information to programs
offering help with energy assistance, food and clothing.

5. Provide opportunities for youth to engage in community service

Afterschool programs can teach youth valuable skills by helping them
recognize their potential to meet community needs and build a sense of civic
responsibility. In addition, afterschool programs successfully recruit, train and
utilize volunteers to work with youth in afterschool programs, which can help
strengthen community engagement.

6. Support students’ aspirations for higher education and help
prepare them for college.

Higher education institutions partner with afterschool programs and benefit
the programs by providing college students as tutors, mentors or activity leaders.
Higher education institutions also offer training, technical assistance and
specialized services.

For every child in an afterschool program two more hope to get in. On Tuesday, March
10, child advocates will be joining the National Afterschool Association and afterschool
professionals around the country to meet Members of Congress and advocate for their
support of children and families who depend on afterschool programs.

It’s not too late to let congress know much you appreciate their support of funding for
afterschool and summer learning programs. Contact them today.

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