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Snacks by Erik Peterson
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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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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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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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Policy Legislation
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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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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Policy Legislation
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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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learn more about: 21st CCLC ESEA Legislation
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APR
14

POLICY
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Critical Senate committee vote this week on 21st CCLC afterschool and summer learning funding

By Erik Peterson

Today the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is scheduled to begin consideration of the bipartisan bill from Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), dubbed the “Every Child Achieves Act.”  The Committee begins discussion of the bill and more than 85 amendments at 2:30 p.m. EDT this afternoon and the process could last several days.    

In general, the Every Child Achieves Act significantly reduces the federal role in K-12 education while preserving some accountability requirements.  A summary of the bill discusses the strengthening of state and local control over education decisions, the continued requirement for limited and appropriate tests to measure student achievement, and support for teachers and principals.  The full bill language is also available.

Of note to supporters of afterschool programs, the Every Child Achieves Act as drafted would eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) initiative—the separate, dedicated federal funding that provides 1.6 million low income children with quality afterschool, summer learning and before school programs.  However, during HELP Committee consideration of the bill this week, Senators will vote on a bipartisan 21st CCLC amendment offered by Senators Murkowski (R-AK), Sanders (D-VT), Franken (D-MN), Cassidy (R-LA), Collins (R-ME) and Baldwin (D-WI) that would restore 21st CCLC while also strengthening the program.  The amendment reflects what has been learned over ten years of extensive research on student academic and nonacademic outcomes gained through regular participation in quality before school, afterschool and summer learning programs.  It also adds additional flexibility to better support strong partnerships between schools and community-based organizations through compromise language that would permit 21st CCLC funds, previously limited to supporting programs outside of the school day, to support specific allowable ‘afterschool-like’ activities that are offered in conjunction with an expanded learning program.

The Afterschool Alliance joins 17,390 Americans who signed a petition asking Congress to continue federal support of afterschool programs, as well as more than 560 local, state and national organizations from all 50 states that wrote to the Senate HELP Committee this winter urging Congress to maintain the 21st CCLC initiative as a separate and specific federal funding stream for school and community partnerships to support students in grades Pre-K through 12 afterschool, before school and during the summer.

Parents, educators, health professionals, law enforcement officials, young people and other supporters of afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs can take action now by reaching out to Senators, particularly if they are on the Senate HELP Committee, in support of the bipartisan Murkowski Sanders 21st CCLC amendment that would ensure quality afterschool and summer learning programs continue to be provided to more than 1.6 million students.

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APR
10

FUNDING
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Development of non-cognitive factors and out-of-school STEM priorities in new round of i3 grants

By Erik Peterson

The Department of Education has issued a notice seeking applications for Investing in Innovation (i3) Development grants for fiscal year 2015.  Two of the five priorities specifically emphasize programs where we know afterschool providers excel: programs that emphasize the development of non-cognitive factors and hands-on, inspirational programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.  Non-cognitive factors can emphasize a range of skills and behaviors including academic behaviors, academic mindset, perseverance, self-regulation and socio-emotional skills. The notice describes the intent to identify solutions to support the growing body of research that suggests interventions enhancing student’s non-cognitive skills can help lead to success in the classroom and later in life.  The Department of Education is also interested in how to measure and evaluate social and emotional skills in order to offer programs that best support students. 

In addition to applications supporting non-cognitive factors, the Department also invites applications supporting out-of-school STEM.  Citing the greater and greater need for students proficient in STEM skills to fill jobs in the American economy, the Department of Education seeks applications for projects that will reach students beyond the school day, give them opportunities to get hands on learning experiences in the STEM fields, and inspire them to pursue STEM career paths.  Programs can extend the day, week or year, and occur before-school, after-school or during the summer.  

In addition to non-cognitive development and STEM, i3 Development grants can cover three other priorities.  The Absolute Priorities all together under which the Department of Education seeks applications are:

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