RSS | Go To: afterschoolalliance.org
Get Afterschool Updates
Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
Afterschool Donation
Afterschool on Facebook
Afterschool on Twitter
Blogs We Read Afterschool Snack Bloggers
Select blogger:
Snacks by Erik Peterson
APR
27
2016

POLICY
email
print

Child nutrition reauthorization bill introduced in the House

By Erik Peterson

On April 20th, Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN), chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education introduced a House child nutrition reauthorization bill on behalf of the majority on the House Education and Workforce Committee. 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:

  • 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.
  • 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. 

In contrast, the Senate child nutrition reauthorization bill that passed the Senate Agriculture Committee earlier this year would instead streamline summer and afterschool meal coordination in a manner that would allow afterschool meal sites to choose to operate year-round through the Summer Food Service Program. This will allow sponsors to keep an adequate reimbursement rate, maintain eligibility, operate one program rather than two, and significantly reduce duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules protecting the new school meal nutrition standards that are improving our children’s health and the school nutrition environment. The Afterschool Alliance has strongly recommended such a provision.

The House bill could be marked up by the House Education and the Workforce Committee in the coming weeks. You can voice your opinion on the bill to your representative via our action center

share this link: http://bit.ly/1Wq1Yas
learn more about: Congress Health and Wellness Nutrition
APR
21
2016

IN THE FIELD
email
print

Summertime means nutritious meals, learning and fun

By Erik Peterson

Once school is out this year, will you be working with a summer learning program to continue providing engaging learning to young people? Don’t forget to provide nutritious meals to children through your program! With the USDA Summer Meals Program you can help young people get free, healthy meals this summer.

How does the program work?

Purpose: To serve free, healthy meals to low-income children and teens during summer months when school is out. 

Where: Any safe place for kids (for example: school, park, rec center, library, faith organization, etc.) can be a summer meal site, but summer learning programs are an ideal location to offer learning and meals!

Who: Summer meal sites receive meals from local sponsoring organizations (for example: Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, local school district, etc.). Sponsors prepare the food (or order it), deliver it to the meal site, and are reimbursed by USDA for the costs.

Eligibility: Any meal site open to the public is eligible if it is in a school attendance area where 50 percent or more children qualify for free and reduced-priced school meals. If it is not open to the public (for example: a summer camp), 50 percent of more of the enrolled students must qualify for free and reduced-priced school meals.

APR
4
2016

CHALLENGE
email
print

Will you accept the Afterschool for All Challenge?

By Erik Peterson

Senator Barbara Boxer of California greets participants of last year's Afterschool for All Challenge.

On May 24, 2016, hundreds of afterschool advocates and youth will be bringing their powerful stories to Capitol Hill for the 16th annual Afterschool for All Challenge. We know it is difficult to travel to Washington, D.C. to make your voice heard, so we are bringing the advocacy opportunity to you with the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge, in which you can participate from your own community or computer!

Join us for the Afterschool for All Challenge: Take Action At Home webinar on Tuesday, April 12 at 1 p.m. ET to learn more about how you can participate and make your voice heard. The webinar will feature soon-to-be-released advocacy tools that will help you make the case for afterschool.

Congress needs to hear from you. 

You are the local experts on afterschool, so we're asking you to call, meet and email Congress on Afterschool for All Challenge day: May 24, 2016. Here in Washington, we'll be backing up your outreach at home through face-to-face meetings with key Members of Congress.

On May 24, take the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge at home—our upcoming Take Action Toolkit will have all the resources you'll need! Here are three easy ways to participate:

  1. Meet with your Congressional district offices or set up a site visit at your program.
  2. Call, tweet or email Congress and ask them to support funding for the afterschool programs working families rely on.
  3. Encourage your contacts to take action.

To help you get started, join us on April 12th for a webinar to walk you through how to successfully reach out to your Members of Congress with key messages during the virtual Afterschool for All ChallengeRegister now!

MAR
25
2016

POLICY
email
print

Members of Congress and national organizations pledge support for boosted afterschool funding

By Erik Peterson

While the House of Representatives is now in recess until April 12, the appropriations process continues as appropriations subcommittee staff start working on drafting spending bills. A challenge for appropriators will be meeting the needs of children and families given the constraints of lower spending levels and the pressure of potentially more spending cuts as a result of a pending House Budget Resolution for FY2017. Funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative is at risk following the president’s proposed $167 million cut to the program announced last month.

House and Senate appropriations committees have begun holding hearings on the FY2017 spending bills, including a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) hearing on March 22, featuring testimony by Education Secretary John King. Representatives Cicilline (D-RI) and Barletta (R-PA) are circulating a “dear colleague letter” calling on appropriators to fund 21st CCLC at $1.3 billion for FY2017.

In the Senate, a full quarter of sitting Senators signed a similar "dear colleague letter” organized by Senator Boxer (D-CA) and addressed to Senate Appropriators to fund 21st CCLC at that same increased level. 21st Century Community Learning Centers play a vital role in communities across the nation in providing out-of-school time services to students and families through unique collaborations between schools and community based organizations, which provide a balance of academic and social and emotional interventions to students in need.

A wide array of national, state and local organizations also expressed support for funding 21st CCLC this week by uniting to send a letter to House and Senate appropriators in support of $1.3 billion for 21st CCLC. Signees to the letter include Americans for the Arts, the American Library Association, the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, After-School All-Stars, the Association of Children’s Museums, the Association of Science-Technology Centers, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Camp Fire, Girl Scouts of the USA, Lutheran Services in America, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Council of Youth Sport, the National Farm to School Network, Save the Children, United Way Worldwide, YMCA of the USA and dozens more.

Make your voice heard, too—take action now.

Individual afterschool advocates are also weighing in on the need for additional federal funding for afterschool programs, having sent more than 210 emails to Members of Congress this month. There is still time to take action and make your voice heard: contact Congress via email, Facebook or Twitter to express support for federal afterschool funding as part of the FY2017 appropriations process.

MAR
7
2016

IN THE FIELD
email
print

Creating opportunities for youth this summer

By Erik Peterson

The Summer Opportunity Project is a multi-agency effort launched on Feb. 25 by the Obama Administration in partnership with the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) and other collaborators to provide support to communities. The effort hopes to significantly increase the percentage of young people in evidence-based summer opportunity programs, decrease the percentage of youth experiencing violence over the summer, and—more broadly—make sure that young Americans have the support they need to get their first job. To meet this challenge, state and local leaders, community-based organizations, private sector leaders, philanthropic leaders, schools and other youth-serving agencies are uniting to create a set of supports that enable strong transitions between school years and from high school to college, which include quality summer learning programs, access to healthy summer meals and summer jobs.

The Summer Opportunity Project was launched last Friday at a White House event that honored Champions of Change in summer programs, including OregonASK executive director Beth Unverzagt.

Afterschool and summer learning programs and advocates can connect to the effort by accessing the Summer Opportunity Federal Resource Guide. The White House and NSLA released this new guide to help local governments and nonprofits identify, navigate, and use federal programs to support summer programming. This is part of a broad effort to improve how the federal government partners with local communities, recognizing the multifaceted nature of challenges at the local level and the opportunity to connect local projects with federal funding and technical assistance.

The guide offers:

  • Descriptions of applicable federal, state, and local funding streams
  • Examples of how to use local partnerships and private funding to leverage public resources
  • Spotlighted strategies and examples of funding in action
  • Case studies of how high quality district and community-based summer learning programs obtained funds 
share this link: http://bit.ly/1W3tGHT
learn more about: Obama Summer Learning
MAR
3
2016

POLICY
email
print

Supporting afterschool funding in the FY 2017 appropriations process

By Erik Peterson

Last month,  the President proposed a decrease in funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative—even though demand continues to increase for local afterschool programs. Efforts are now under way to make the case for funding 21st CCLC at $1.3 billion, an increase that would extend opportunities to an additional 140,000 children who are currently waiting for access. The increased funding is necessary to help meet the growing demand for quality afterschool and summer learning programs and also to help address rising labor costs associated with operating quality programs. Individual advocates can reach out to their members of Congress through the Afterschool Alliance website in support of 21st CCLC, while representatives of national, state and local organizations are encouraged to sign on to our letter of support for 21st CCLC.

Last week, Congress returned from a week-long recess with a host of education-related activity, including four education hearings in the House and Senate—three of which featured Acting Secretary of Education John B. King. Over the course of these hearings, King emphasized his plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as Congress intended, touted his support for afterschool programs, and spoke in support of the President’s FY 2017 spending plan for programs at the Department of Education.

On the spending and appropriations side, uncertainty continues to surround the House Budget Resolution process; however, Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) did announce plans to try to get a spending resolution approved in the coming weeks. At the same time, Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate have begun holding hearings with Administration officials on different parts of the FY 2017 budget, and Senators and Representatives are making their spending priorities known.

Take action now: let your representatives know that you support 21st CCLC as a means to keep kids learning, safe, and engaged in the hours after school.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1WXDNhC
learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Budget Congress
FEB
9
2016

POLICY
email
print

The President's FY2017 budget: An afterschool and summer learning perspective

By Erik Peterson

Today President Obama released the final budget request of his presidency, proposing a $4 trillion budget blueprint for the upcoming 2017 fiscal year, which begins this October. The president requested $1 billion for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) —a cut of $167 million that would be devastating to the 170,000 children and their families that stand to lose access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs under the proposal. Read Executive Director Jodi Grant's official response to the budget proposal. 

The budget proposal has also been deemed “dead on arrival” by Congressional leadership.

The 21st CCLC initiative was reauthorized last December in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and saw funding increased by $15 million as part of the bipartisan 2016 fiscal year omnibus spending bill. However, even with this strong support, more than 11 million students remain unsupervised after school, and the parents of almost 20 million students would like their children to be in programs—but programs are unavailable, unaffordable or both. Rather than cut this vital support for young people and their families, Congress should increase funding to $1.3 billion to help meet the growing demand for afterschool programs and help address rising labor costs associated with quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1Q7F9rl
learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Congress Obama
FEB
3
2016

POLICY
email
print

Child nutrition policy proposals focus on afterschool and summer learning programs

By Erik Peterson

With the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 unanimously passing the Senate Agriculture Committee last month, the process of reauthorizing the federal child nutrition programs is well under way. The bill, which is expected to head to the Senate floor sometime this spring, would impact the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool Meals. At the same time President Obama recently announced a new Administration initiative calling for major investments in preventing child hunger.

The bipartisan child nutrition reauthorization bill, crafted by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), includes a number of provisions of interest to afterschool and summer learning providers, including:

  • Streamlining summer and afterschool meal coordination, which will allow afterschool meal sites to choose to operate year-round through the Summer Food Service Program. This will allow sponsors to operate one program rather than two, and significantly reduce duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules protecting the new school meal nutrition standards that are improving our children’s health and the school nutrition environment. The Afterschool Alliance had strongly recommended such a provision. The streamlining provision is phased in over time.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1PAsOK8
learn more about: Budget Congress Health and Wellness