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Snacks by Erik Peterson
JUL
8

POLICY
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Day one of ESEA week: Senate, House begin consideration of federal education law

By Erik Peterson

Yesterday, for the first time since 2001, the full Senate began debating the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), legislation that would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and serve as a federal blueprint for the nation’s 50 million K-12 students. At the same time, on the other side of Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives Rules Committee began laying the groundwork for a return to the House floor today of their version of ESEA reauthorization, the Students Success Act (HR 5). The ESEA reauthorization process has significant implications for afterschool and summer learning programs as key federal funding like the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative is authorized within the bill. Weigh in with Congress in support of afterschool now.

On the Senate side, the stage was set for floor debate Tuesday afternoon with Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) giving opening speeches on the importance of striking the right balance between federal, state and local support for education. Dozens of amendments have already been filed by Senators, although given the Senate’s rules regarding floor debate, it is unclear how many will ultimately be offered and subjected to floor votes. Among the amendments pertaining to afterschool are several by Sens. Brown (D-OH) and Manchin (D-WV) that support community school efforts. Senator Alexander stated he expects the first recorded votes on amendments will be today. Senate action will be broadcast on C-SPAN2.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JUL
2

POLICY
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As ESEA heads to the Senate floor, let Senators know the impact of afterschool

By Erik Peterson

On Tuesday, July 7th, debate on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—and 21st CCLC, which is part of the legislation—is scheduled to begin on the Senate floor for the first time in 14 years. For what is expected to be a multi-week process, the full Senate will debate and consider a large number of amendments to the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. The Every Child Achieves Act, authored by Senate HELP Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) seeks to reauthorize ESEA and unanimously passed the Committee in mid-April.  The bill includes Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) bipartisan 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) amendment that passed by unanimous consent during Committee mark-up, strengthening 21st CCLC and helping ensure that 1.6 million young people continue to have access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

The primary debate is expected to be around the accountability and testing provisions in the bill. A number of organizations and Senators have expressed concerns that without additional safeguards for disadvantaged students, the Every Child Achieves Act would not adequately serve and protect all vulnerable students. The 21st CCLC section, however, is not expected to be controversial. The language strengthens the 21st CCLC initiative by:

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JUN
26

POLICY
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FY16 appropriations update: Urge Congress to support afterschool and summer learning programs

By Erik Peterson

This has been a busy week for House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Quick on the heels of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee mark-up of their FY2015 spending bill last week, the equivalent subcommittee in the Senate marked up their own version of the bill that sets funding levels for all federal education, human service, health and labor programs. The full Appropriations Committee in the House and Senate followed next, passing their respective bills on straight partisan votes Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Due to tight spending caps set earlier this year, both bills include significant cuts to education and other programs that provide necessary supports to children and working families. With regard to key federal efforts that support afterschool and summer learning programs provided by local school-community partnerships, the House LHHS bill funds the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative at the FY2015 level of $1.152 billion, while the Senate bill cuts 21st CCLC by $117 million, about 10 percent of current funding levels. If the Senate bill were to become law, between 117,000 and 175,000 children would lose access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs next year.

The Senate LHHS bill proposes to fund the U.S. Department of Education and its federal education programs to the tune of $65.5 billion, a $1.7 billion cut from FY2015. Both bills also eliminate a number of key education programs, with more than 20 programs getting the axe in the House bill and ten meeting the same fate in the Senate bill, including Investing in Innovation, Carol M. White PEP grants and the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program.

In addition to the cut to 21st CCLC, the Senate bill decreases funding levels for School Improvement Grants by $56 million and Promise Neighborhoods by $20 million. Increases are proposed for Title I for low-income students which can be used to provide afterschool and summer learning programs ($150 million increase), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ($125 million increase) and charter schools ($20 million increase). With regard to non-education programs that support afterschool programs for children, the bill increases the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) by $150 million, but cuts AmeriCorps funding by 20 percent. Some key differences between the House and Senate LHHS bills are listed below:

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JUN
16

POLICY
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FY16 education spending bill released in House, would impact children and families

By Erik Peterson

The House Appropriations Committee today released a draft fiscal year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill, which will be debated and voted on at the subcommittee level tomorrow, June 17th. The draft bill cuts discretionary funding for the Department of Education by $2.8 billion compared to fiscal year 2015 levels (and $6.4 billion below the President’s budget request) but appears to keep 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) level with last year’s funding at $1.15 billion. However, there is significant concern with the bill, as it makes deep cuts to many programs that support children and working families.

The legislation, summarized here by the House Appropriations Committee, includes funding for programs within the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. The bill eliminates at least 19 education programs, including:

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JUN
5

POLICY
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USDA considers comments on CACFP meal pattern changes

By Erik Peterson

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) closed the comment period on their proposed new rules governing the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Every day, more than 3 million children and adults receive meals through CACFP in Head Start programs, child and adult day cares, emergency shelters, and afterschool programs. 

The new meal pattern requirements align with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as required by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. These guidelines will help to ensure every meal received through the CACFP program is healthy and nutritious, including those meals served by afterschool programs through the CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals program. With these new guidelines the USDA has taken a step forward in providing nutrient rich meals to children. Under the proposed guidelines, there will be no increase in funding accompanying the changes.

The Afterschool Alliance joined more than 1,400 organizations and individuals in submitting a letter providing comments to the USDA, commending the agency for taking a balanced approach to updating the nutrition requirements for CACFP and urging USDA to allow flexibility and avoid creating more record keeping requirements and increasing the risk of losing meal reimbursements. 

Specific recommendations were also provided:

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learn more about: Federal Policy Nutrition
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JUN
2

POLICY
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Congress and afterschool programs: What's in store for June

By Erik Peterson

With Congress returning from Memorial Day recess this week, it is a good time to look back at a few recently introduced bills related to afterschool and summer learning programs and to preview the month ahead. From legislation supporting college students’ work with afterschool programs, to a bill that would promote youth STEM and mentoring programs, Congressional support for afterschool programs continues to grow.

The Senate could take up the Every Child Achieves Act (the bipartisan ESEA/NCLB reauthorization bill) as soon as the week of June 15th. Language in Title IV of the bill strengthening the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative was added as an amendment that passed unanimously during mark-up of the bill in Committee in mid-April. The House could bring their version of ESEA reauthorization, the Student Success Act (HR 5), back to the House floor for a vote during June or July. Unlike the Senate bill, the House bill would eliminate 21st CCLC.

Also of note this month for friends of afterschool and summer learning programs, the FY2016 appropriations process will continue, potentially including a vote at the Appropriations subcommittee level for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education spending bill which would set funding levels for 21st CCLC and the Child Care Development Block Grant. 

Within the context of spending and ESEA reauthorization, the following afterschool-related bills were introduced this spring:

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APR
30

POLICY
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FY2016 appropriations process continues in House and Senate

By Erik Peterson

With House and Senate Budget Committee Chairmen announcing this week that the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Conference has reached an agreement on a joint Congressional balanced budget resolution, the FY2016 appropriations process is starting to move forward in earnest.  A challenge for appropriators will be meeting the needs of children and families given the constraints of lower spending levels.

House and Senate appropriations committees have begun holding hearings on the FY2016 spending bills, including Labor, HHS, Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee hearings featuring testimony by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and a public witness hearing this week.  At the House subcommittee hearing in early March, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) emphasized the importance of maintaining strong investments in afterschool programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative.

This week, Karen West, Special Projects Curriculum Supervisor, Corbin Independent Schools of Corbin, Kentucky, represented the Afterschool Alliance at a public witness hearing of the Subcommittee, presenting heartfelt testimony and calling for continued federal support of 21st CCLC, stating:

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APR
20

POLICY
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Every Child Achieves Act passes Senate HELP Committee, includes 21st CCLC afterschool program

By Erik Peterson

The Senate HELP Committee concluded its three day mark-up of the bipartisan Every Childs Achieves Act of 2015 last week, unanimously passing the new ESEA reauthorization bill and sending it to the Senate floor for consideration later this spring or in early summer. The bill now includes Sen. Murkowski’s (R-AK) bipartisan 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) amendment that passed by unanimous consent earlier last week—a significant step towards ensuring that 1.6 million young people will remain in the afterschool and summer learning programs they currently attend.

The 21st CCLC amendment that was included in the Every Child Achieves Act is based largely on the bipartisan Afterschool for America’s Children Act (S. 308) introduced by Sens. Murkowski and Boxer (D-CA) that is the product of five years of discussion with afterschool providers, parents, young people, national youth development groups, state education agencies, and other stakeholders. The amendment strengthens the 21st CCLC initiative by emphasizing better data sharing between schools and community based organizations; updating allowable uses to include STEM, physical activity, nutrition education, financial literacy, workforce development programs and more; expands program performance measures; adds a role for external intermediary organizations; and highlights professional development for program staff.

The inclusion of 21st CCLC is a true win for young people, parents and communities, and is a result of the strong bipartisan support of Sens. Murkowski, Murray (D-WA), Franken (D-MN), Sanders (I-VT), Cassidy (R-LA), Collins (R-ME), Baldwin (D-WI), Boxer , Warren (D-MA) and others, as well as the outpouring of  support from so many stakeholders – including 17,400 individuals who signed a petition supporting 21st CCLC; 560+ local, state and national groups who signed a letter of support; and more than 5,000 emails that were sent to Senate and House offices since January when draft legislation released by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee first proposed to eliminate 21st CCLC.

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