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Snacks by Erik Peterson
SEP
12
2016

POLICY
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Afterschool & Law Enforcement: New tools for working with school resource officers

By Erik Peterson

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this post as part of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement blog series. For more information on the ways afterschool programs are partnering with local police, check out our previous blogs on building relationships and trust, the motivations for partnerships and on the law enforcement caucus’ briefing on youth mentoring.

Late last week, the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice released several new tools in the form of letters to states and districts emphasizing the importance of well-designed school resource officer (SRO) programs. School resource officers are law enforcement officers who provide security and crime prevention services to school communities. These new tools are intended to help SRO programs improve school climate, ensure safety for students and support student achievement in schools nationwide.

To the extent a local decision is made to use SROs in community schools, these resources will help state and local education and law enforcement agencies responsibly incorporate SROs in the learning environment. Additionally, the Departments have highlighted tools available for law enforcement agencies that also apply to higher education campus law enforcement agencies.

To assist states, schools and their law enforcement partners in assessing the proper role of SROs and campus law enforcement professionals, both the Education Department's and the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services released letters to states and districts emphasizing the importance of well-designed SRO programs and calling on leaders of institutions of higher education to commit to implementing recommendations from the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing in the campus policing context.

To assist in the K-12 context, the Departments also jointly released the Safe, School-based Enforcement through Collaboration, Understanding, and Respect (SECURe) Rubrics. These new resources can help education and law enforcement agencies that use SROs to review and, if necessary, revise SRO-related policies in alignment with common-sense action steps that can lead to improved school safety and better outcomes for students while safeguarding their civil rights.

Afterschool advocates at the state and local level have been working with community organizations, school district leadership and law enforcement on using the afterschool setting as a venue to build better relationships between law enforcement and young people. The new tools released by the Departments of Education and Justice are a welcome addition to the resources available for this work. 

JUL
27
2016

POLICY
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Congressional staff learn how to support rural afterschool programs

By Erik Peterson

The benefits provided by afterschool programs can be integral to the fabric of a rural community—including STEM learning experiences, community connections, caring mentors, and healthy snacks and meals. On July 26th, a Senate Afterschool Caucus briefing on “Afterschool in Rural America” highlighted research and experiences from providers that demonstrates how rural parents not only view afterschool programs as a support system for children’s academic growth, social development, and overall health and wellness, but how they also regard programs as a critical resource for working families.

An audience of Congressional staffers and representatives from national organizations heard from an expert panel about why the demand for afterschool programs in rural America is even greater than the overall national demand:

Nikki Yamashiro, director of research for the Afterschool Alliance, spoke on data gathered from parents and rural afterschool providers and featured in the 2016 America After 3PM Special Report: The Growing Importance of Afterschool in Rural Communities, sponsored by John Deere. Nikki reported on statistics about the demand for afterschool, including the finding that 3.1 million rural children who aren’t in an afterschool program would be enrolled in a program if one were available. She also noted how parents say that afterschool supports children and families, and that rural support for public investment in afterschool is strong. She also touched on the challenges faced by rural providers, including those challenges around providing quality STEM learning opportunities.

Liz Nusken, technical advisor for the YMCA of the USA, spoke about rural afterschool from the perspective of a national afterschool program provider. She painted a clear picture of what a rural YMCA program looks like, and the ways that YMCAs and schools work together in rural communities with key academic and behavioral outcomes. In particular, her presentation spoke to the work of the YMCA Achievement Gap Initiative in rural communities.   

Tammy Shay, director of programs, policy and communications for the Maryland Out of School Time (MOST) Network, talked through rural afterschool from a state perspective covering three key areas:

  • Assets of rural providers. Strong partnerships are key to success for afterschool in general—but absolutely essential in rural communities, where everyone wears many hats and can speak about a variety of issues. Schools are "community schools" in rural areas by default, and afterschool programs can be the bridge between schools and other services in area.
  • Transportation challenges. The distances involved and high costs of transportation for rural afterschool program providers form a large hurdle for rural providers to overcome.
  • The supports that rural programs need. The briefing emphasized the importance of 21st CCLC funding, which helps to provide a backbone for programs that includes supporting core staffing that is needed to loop in other partners, managing day to day operations, and finding and retaining staff.

Tammy also detailed the Maryland STEM ambassador program as an example of how statewide afterschool networks create a bridge and make essential connections between community assets in rural areas across the state. 

This briefing covered an important topic for the afterschool field. America After 3PM research found that for every one rural child in an afterschool program, there are three more rural children who are missing out on the amazing opportunities that afterschool programs have to offer. Afterschool supporters and providers can learn more about rural afterschool programs through the 2016 America After 3PM Special Report: The Growing Importance of Afterschool in Rural Communities and the rural afterschool data dashboard.

JUL
18
2016

POLICY
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Confirmed: funding for afterschool maintained in House education spending bill

By Erik Peterson

Participants from the Alternatives Inc. afterschool program visit the Capitol during this year's Afterschool for All Challenge.

As previewed on the Afterschool Snack last week, the House Appropriations Committee marked up the fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill on July 13th and 14th, maintaining funding for federal afterschool and summer learning programs. In total, the draft bill includes $161.6 billion in discretionary funding, which is $569 million below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $2.8 billion President Obama's budget request.

According to a statement by the Appropriations Committee, “funding within the bill is targeted to proven programs with the most national benefit.” The bill cuts discretionary funding for the Department of Education by $1.3 billion compared to fiscal year 2016 levels, but keeps 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) level with last year’s funding at $1.16 billion.

The new Student Support and Academic Achievement State Grant program in Title IV Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is funded at $1 billion, $700 million above the Senate LHHS bill and $500 million above the President’s budget request, for grants that provide flexible funds to states and school districts to expand access to a well-rounded education (including afterschool STEM initiatives), improve school conditions, and improve the use of technology. The bill also includes $10 million for Full Service Community Schools (FSCS) grants whereas the Senate version of the bill had provided no funding for FSCS.

The legislation 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.

With regard to 21st CCLC, the funding level set in the House bill will allow 21st CCLC to continue providing quality afterschool and summer learning programs for almost two million children through local school-community partnerships. The bill also funds the Child Care Development Block Grant at $2.8 billion, a significant funding stream for school-age child care.

On the Senate side, the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee and full Committee marked up its FY17 spending bill earlier this summer, cutting $117 million from 21st CCLC

Add your voice to the debate on afterschool funding

Given the activity in the House and Senate around important policy and funding decisions, now is an opportune time to reach out to members of Congress to remind them of the value of afterschool and summer learning programs in inspiring learning, keeping young people safe, and helping working families.

JUL
8
2016

POLICY
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Afterschool and summer learning protected in FY17 House education spending bill

By Erik Peterson

The House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Committee today marked up its fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill, which could be debated and voted on by the full Appropriations Committee the week of July 11th. In total, the draft bill includes $161.6 billion in discretionary funding, which is $569 million below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $2.8 billion below the President’s budget request.

Unofficial reports: 21st CCLC avoids funding cut

According to a statement by the Appropriations Committee, “funding within the bill is targeted to proven programs with the most national benefit.” The bill cuts discretionary funding for the Department of Education by $1.3 billion compared to fiscal year 2016 levels but (according to unofficial reports) keeps 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) level with last year’s funding at $1.16 billion. This news on 21st CCLC funding will need to be confirmed once language is officially released. 

The new Student Support and Academic Achievement State Grant program in Title IV Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is funded at $1 billion, $700 million above the Senate LHHS bill and $500 million above the President’s budget request, for grants that provide flexible funds to states and school districts to expand access to a well-rounded education (including afterschool STEM initiatives), improve school conditions, and improve the use of technology.

The legislation 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.

With regard to 21st CCLC, the funding level set in the House bill will allow 21st CCLC to continue providing quality afterschool and summer learning programs for almost two million children through local school-community partnerships. The bill also funds the Child Care Development Block Grant at $2.8 billion, a significant funding stream for school-age child care.

On the Senate side, the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee and full Committee marked up its FY17 spending bill earlier this summer, cutting $117 million from 21st CCLC

Add your voice to the debate on afterschool funding

Given the activity in the House and Senate around important policy and funding decisions, now is an opportune time to reach out to members of Congress to remind them of the value of afterschool and summer learning programs in inspiring learning, keeping young people safe, and helping working families.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Funding
JUN
30
2016

RESEARCH
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New poll: Americans want to invest in youth and afterschool

By Erik Peterson

With election day just four months away, most adults say they are more likely to vote for a candidate committed to investing in effective child and youth well-being policies, according to a new national poll conducted by Hart Research on behalf of the Children’s Leadership Council. More than three in five adults—representing every age, race, income and education level across the country—want the next president and Congress to invest more federal funds in afterschool, child nutrition, child health and education programs for children, according to the poll findings.

By overwhelming margins, the poll found that Americans say the nation’s children would be better off if government did more to support parents and families, and that they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who would commit to policies that advance children’s well-being. In particular, the poll found the highest support among millennials, regardless of party.

Here are the specifics of Americans' widespread support for investing in our future

  • 70 percent of Americans believe children would be better off if government did more to support parents and families.
  • 63 percent of Americans favor increasing funding for programs and services to meet children’s needs.
  • A majority of Americans say they are more likely to support someone who commits to making child well-being policies a priority, especially in the areas of: child abuse and family violence (75 percent); child poverty and hunger (71 percent); child health care coverage (67 percent); college affordability (66 percent), and child care and early education (58 percent).

With regard to afterschool programs, the poll echoed previous election year polls on the value that the public places on afterschool programs:

  • 63 percent of parents said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who commits to making expanding afterschool programs and summer learning opportunities priorities if elected.
  • 67 percent of mothers said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who commits to making expanding afterschool programs and summer learning opportunities priorities if elected.
  • 67 percent of millennials said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who commits to making expanding afterschool programs and summer learning opportunities priorities if elected.
  • 77 percent of African Americans said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who commits to making expanding afterschool programs and summer learning opportunities priorities if elected.

The Children’s Leadership Council, a coalition of nearly 60 of the nation’s leading child and youth advocacy organizations, including the Afterschool Alliance, commissioned Hart Research Associates to conduct the poll. The poll used telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of over 2,000 Americans age 18 and older across the country, including 595 parents of children under age 18. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percent.

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learn more about: Advocacy Congress Election Federal Funding
JUN
28
2016

POLICY
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Gains in Summer Meals, but work remains

By Erik Peterson

With summer 2016 in full swing, summer learning programs are again gearing up, and more than just minds will be filled before school starts up again in the fall. Once again, millions of children will receive meals through the US Department of Agriculture’s Summer Meals program: ensuring that kids are nourished and healthy while they explore, learn and grow this summer.

Earlier this month, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) released its latest Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation report, finding that summer nutrition programs nationally saw a modest increase of 11,000 participants from July 2014 to 2015. These numbers come after three years of significant program growth. According to the report, on an average day in July 2015, summer nutrition programs served lunch to nearly 3.2 million children across the country, equaling 15.8 low-income children participating for every 100 that receive a free or reduced-price lunch. The report again points to the challenges that summer learning programs face in operating the Summer Meals program and the barriers to participation for many families. 

One way to improve these numbers, according to the FRAC report, is through Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation currently being debated by Congress. The Afterschool Alliance supports a key proposal that can be included in the legislation, streamlining meal programs by allowing sponsors to provide food year-round, rather than in two separate programs during the school year and summer.

Summer learning providers are also a key player in boosting participation in the program. Currently it is too early to see how the numbers will translate to Summer 2016, but this is the time to build momentum. To find smart strategies for closing the hunger gap and increasing participation in summer meal programs, check out the USDA’s wide range of new and updated materials to make summer learning and summer meals better than ever in 2016.

JUN
7
2016

POLICY
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Cut to afterschool proposed in Senate LHHS Subcommittee education spending bill

By Erik Peterson

The FY2017 appropriations process started once again this week with the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee marking up and passing by a voice vote their FY2017 education spending bill today. The full Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up the bill this Thursday, with the House Committee likely to tackle their own version of the bill later this month. The bill sets funding levels for all federal education, human service, health and labor programs—including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which provides federal funds leveraged by local school-community partnerships to provide quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

While bipartisan (the first time a bipartisan bill has been passed out of the Subcommittee in 7 years, to be exact) the Senate LHHS FY2017 spending bill includes cuts to education and other programs that provide necessary supports to children and working families due to a spending allocation that was $270 million less than FY2016 and tremendous competing pressures for funding. It also must be noted that no “poison pill” policy riders were included in the bill, thus further ensuring bipartisan passage of the measure.

Proposal cuts afterschool by $117 million

With regard to key federal efforts that support afterschool and summer learning programs, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative was funded at $1,050,000,000—a cut of $117 million below the current FY2016 level of $1.166 billion. The proposed level is slightly above the level authorized in last year’s ESSA bill, however it represents about a 10 percent cut from the current funding level. If the Senate bill were to become law, approximately 117,000 children would lose access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs next year.

The Senate LHHS bill provides $161.9 billion in base discretionary spending, which is $270 million below the FY2016 level and $2 billion below the President’s budget request. The bill funds the U.S. Department of Education at $67.8 billion, a $220 million decrease below the comparable FY2016 level. In addition to 21st CCLC, funding levels for a number of other programs that support afterschool include:

MAY
26
2016

POLICY
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Child nutrition bill clears House Education Committee, yet raises major concerns

By Erik Peterson

On May 18, 2016, the House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), approved H.R. 5003, the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016. Introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), the legislation reauthorizes and reforms federal child nutrition programs. The bill passed the committee by a partisan vote of 20 to 14. The bill would reauthorize the federal child nutrition programs, including the Child and Adult Food Care Food Program (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool Meals program and the Summer Food Service Program; however, many of the proposed changes could result in children no longer being able to access the nutritious meals they need to learn and be healthy.

Among the general provisions in the bill of major concern to afterschool and child nutrition advocates:

  • Failing to address shortfalls in the summer food program (especially from an out-of-school time perspective). The streamlining provision in the bill does not allow nonprofit organizations and local government agencies (that are not schools) to operate the Summer Food Service Program year-round. Instead, sponsors receive the lower CACFP reimbursement rate, and fewer sites are eligible in order to qualify for streamlining. Rather than making it easier for providers to offer meals seamlessly throughout the calendar year, the proposed provision would result in fewer programs offering meals to children in need due to the limited eligibility and lower reimbursement rate. 
  • Significantly weakening the community eligibility provision (CEP). Community eligibility is a federal option in its second year of nationwide implementation that reduces administrative work and increases school lunch and breakfast access in high-poverty schools. The bill proposes to substantially reduce the number of high-poverty schools that are eligible to implement community eligibility, which would impact approximately 7,000 of the 18,000 schools currently participating in the program. 11,000 additional schools not currently participating would lose the option to implement community eligibility in future years.
  • Increasing verification requirements. The bill dramatically increases school meal application verification requirements in ways that inevitably would cause eligible students to lose access to free or reduced-price school meals. Under the proposal, the number of household applications to be verified would increase significantly for many school districts, creating paperwork burdens for schools and families. A disproportionate number of vulnerable families, such as those who are homeless, migrant, immigrant or have limited English proficiency, would fall through the cracks in the process and lose access to school meals even though they are eligible.
  • Block granting school meals. The legislation also includes a three state school meal block grant demonstration pilot to replace the School Breakfast, National School Lunch, Special Milk, and Team Nutrition programs. The funding would be capped and cannot exceed the amount a state received for the programs and administrative funding in fiscal year 2016. The funding for school breakfast and lunch is limited to the free and reduced-price reimbursements (eliminating about 29 cents per meal provided for other children) and takes away the additional six cents per lunch provided to schools in the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 for meeting the new federal nutrition standards. The states would have broad discretion to: determine which children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and how they are determined eligible; decide the time of year that meals are provided; and abandon the current nutrition standards (meals are only required to be “healthy”).
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learn more about: Advocacy Budget Congress Nutrition