Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 Surveys
As the coronavirus continues to impact families and communities, the Afterschool Alliance has commissioned a series of surveys of parents and afterschool and summer program providers to monitor the state of the afterschool field and parents' needs as the country adapts to the challenging circumstances and stressors created by the pandemic.
In a survey of 1,016 afterschool program providers, conducted between October 24 and November 30, 2022, more than 9 in 10 report that they are open, with majorities providing their students with opportunities for academic enrichment, collaboration and connection with their peers, building foundational skills, and leadership opportunities. However, Wave 8 of the Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 survey finds that while providers are increasingly reporting that they have been able to return to pre-COVID capacity limits, there are still nearly 1 in 4 providers who say that they have not been able to return to their regular operational capacity.
Based on findings from Wave 7 of the Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 survey, conducted by Edge Research between March 21 and April 12, 2022, the below materials provide a snapshot of how afterschool and summer program providers are faring more than two years into the pandemic.
Beginning in late spring 2020 and through late 2021, the six waves of Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 online survey, conducted by Edge Research, documents afterschool and summer programs’ operating status, services, and challenges throughout COVID-19. The series demonstrates that through the ups and downs of the pandemic, what has remained constant is the ability of the afterschool field to rise to moment and meet the needs of the children and families in their communities.
Finding staff to hire or staffing shortages, and maintaining staff levels through health concerns and safety protocols are the top two concerns among afterschool providers based on the Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 Wave 6 survey, conducted by Edge Research between Nov. 1 and Dec. 13, 2021. While staffing challenges are not a new issue for the afterschool field, this survey of 1,048 afterschool program providers confirms that now, more than ever, staffing is impacting the ability of providers to meet the needs of the children and families they serve.
This summer, as most states lift COVID-19 restrictions and families ease back into public life, summer programs also report moving toward a return to normal, with a nearly 70 percent increase in programs opening their doors and serving students in-person in some capacity compared to the summer of 2020 and 8 in 10 providers reporting optimism about the future of their program. However, issues remain, with more than half of providers serving students in-person reporting a waitlist and operating at reduced capacity due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The Wave 5 provider survey of 937 program providers was conducted June 2-28, 2021, and represents more than 6,400 program sites.
Roughly one year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, afterschool programs are continuing to help children, families, and their communities push through these difficult times. This dashboard includes findings from Wave 4 of the Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 survey series, conducted Feb. 19-March 15, 2021, as well as comparisons to previous survey waves.
Eight months into COVID-19, three key trends are shaping the landscape of afterschool programs across the nation. First, many more afterschool programs are operating now than were in the spring and summer. Second, programs are able to serve only about half as many students as they supported before the pandemic. Third, the children being left behind are disproportionately those from low-income families. These findings are documented in the brief, Back to School in the Time of COVID-19, based on the third in a series of surveys of afterschool program providers to monitor the state of the afterschool field. The Wave 3 provider survey of 1,445 program providers, was conducted between September 28 and October 27, and represents more than 7,300 program sites.
After six months in a COVID-19 world, with the continued uncertainty of when things will return to normal, this brief, Preparing for Back to School and Navigating Summer in the Time of COVID-19, combines findings from a survey of parents along with the second in a series of surveys of afterschool and summer providers to monitor the state of the afterschool field. The Wave 2 provider survey of 1,047 afterschool and summer program providers, conducted between July 20 and August 31, finds that providers are growing increasingly worried about their program’s long-term sustainability, but despite these struggles, programs continue to provide supports to the children and families in their communities, with strong majorities of parents believing in the value of afterschool and summer programs, as well as supporting public funding for these opportunities.
In the first in a series of surveys that take the pulse of the afterschool field during the pandemic, it is clear that although afterschool programs remain a vital partner to help young people emerge from this crisis strong, resilient, and hopeful, they are in dire need of support. In a survey conducted by Edge Research on behalf of the Afterschool Alliance between May 28-June 30, 7 in 10 program providers report serving students in some capacity since the pandemic began, however, 84% of programs report that they are concerned that they will not be able to provide services in the fall.