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Snacks by Jillian Luchner
DEC
21
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Wallace & RAND brief: ESSA can support SEL

By Jillian Luchner

Since the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) originally passed in December 2015, afterschool partners have been able to use their expertise in youth development to build on the newfound flexibility that ESSA provides for states, districts, and schools around the country toward the goal of well-rounded support for all students. An especially promising avenue for the field is the new opportunities that have arisen around social and emotional learning (SEL). Numerous studies have shown that social and emotional learning can support many areas of student development and achievement, but there have historically been few opportunities to advance SEL through the formal education system. While ESSA does not explicitly mention SEL, there is a strong case to be made that the bill provides a wealth of new opportunities to advance SEL interventions both in and out of school.

On December 13, RAND researchers in coordination with researchers at the Wallace Foundation hosted a webinar highlighting how SEL interventions fit into the structure of ESSA. Focusing largely on the findings of the RAND Corporation’s recently published brief, “How the Every Student Succeeds Act Can Support Social and Emotional Learning,” presenters shared some good news: RAND has identified a menu of 60 SEL interventions that meet the requirements laid out by ESSA.

DEC
20
2017

POLICY
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Wrapping up 2017: A review of state policy highlights

By Jillian Luchner

It’s almost January. As many state legislatures prepare to begin new legislative sessions, it’s a good time to look at the 2017 state policy year in review. 

In afterschool policy, some states saw major developments in state funding. Illinois received appropriations for afterschool Teen REACH programs for the first time in many years, New York's Governor dedicated $35 million in new funding for afterschool across the state, and California received an increase in per-pupil funding for its state funded ASES programs. Texas instituted legislation to require school districts to report on the percentage of students in schools involved in afterschool and summer learning activities.  

Other funding efforts across states, with bills introduced but which did not make it into law before the end of session, included Minnesota ($5 million for competitive grants for positive youth development); Vermont (matching grants for out of school time programs); Maine (a summer success program) and Hawaii (for middle-school afterschool program funding). And in a tough year for state budgets, many states fought back against what would have been large cuts in state funding streams for programs.

 

SEP
13
2017

POLICY
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Diverse voices gather on Capitol Hill to testify for afterschool

By Jillian Luchner

On September 12, 2017 the Senate Afterschool Caucus led by Senators Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Franken (D-Minn.) hosted a “Back to Afterschool” briefing highlighting a diverse panel of experts from the military, health, education, government, and philanthropic sectors. Each speaker attested to the value of afterschool and summer programs from their unique vantage point and the need for a combination of federal, state, and local support.

Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant opened the panel by noting that the research on the positive impacts of afterschool programs is clear, and programs across the country are making a huge difference for students and families.

“The effectiveness of high quality afterschool and summer programs,” Grant stated, “should not be in question. Support for these programs runs wide and deep.”

AUG
21
2017

POLICY
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Juvenile justice bill clears the senate, on to final step

By Jillian Luchner

On August 1, updated juvenile justice bill (S. 860) passed the full Senate by voice vote, representing a large step forward in the long overdue reauthorization of the legislation. Last year in the 114th Congress, bills to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) passed through the House and the Senate Judiciary Committee before getting stalled on the Senate floor.

The updates in the Senate juvenile justice bill would match current knowledge on evidence-based best practices in the field, including using adolescent development-, mental health-, and trauma-informed practice and encouraging alternatives to incarceration. The bill also seeks to reduce or eliminate dangerous practices, including—when possible—keeping youth out of contact (both sight and sound) with adult offenders. The bill would establish changes to enhance reporting and accountability measures. The full list of goals for updated legislation from the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition can be seen here.

 

JUL
7
2017

POLICY
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"Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century" passes the House

By Jillian Luchner

The Afterschool Alliance celebrates the passing of H.R. 2353, Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century. The bill passed the House of Representatives by voice vote on June 22. The two major Career and Technical Associations have endorsed the bill.

The bill’s language borrows substantially from the CTE bill which passed the House in the 114th Congress and enjoys broad bipartisan support. H.R. 2353 provides much-needed updates to the current law, including an ability to begin pathways for youth earlier (fifth grader rather than seventh), an explicit inclusion of community-based partners as eligible entities for CTE work, and a recognition of the importance of employability skills, science, technology, engineering and math (the field known as STEM), and helping youth engage in non-traditional career fields. The bill would also gradually increase appropriations of the approximately $1 billion legislation by 1.38 percent each year through 2023.

MAY
12
2017

POLICY
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New career education bill includes opportunities for afterschool

By Jillian Luchner

Update, May 17: (H.R. 2352) unanimously passed out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee on May 17, 2017.

Original post, May 12:

On May 4, Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) introduced the Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353) to provide more opportunities for coordination and collaboration across sectors that support student career pathways.

The proposed bill emphasizes the importance of employability skills and makes career exploration an allowable use of CTE funding as early as the middle grades (5th grade and beyond). Community-based providers, such as afterschool programs, are explicitly mentioned as eligible entities, which should smooth the way for afterschool programs to be considered school district partners. Additionally, intermediaries that support districts are required to have experience coordinating partnerships with community-based providers, making afterschool programs a great fit for the role.

The legislation would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which is overdue for an update. It mainly replicates last year’s H.R. 5587, which passed with a vote of 405-5 in the 114th Congress, and will authorize the CTE program with $1.133 billion in funds for FY18, growing to $1.213 billion in 2023. To see how this year’s bill has changed from last year’s proposed legislation, see this Education Week article.

A bill summary on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce webpage reviews some of the important updates in the proposed legislation, including:

  • Providing more flexibility on how to use the federal funds
  • Emphasizing coordination across federal- and state-led programs
  • Enhancing partnerships and public input between community and business representatives

The timing is right for a new CTE law. The federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, takes effect this fall and includes updated language around workforce development in the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, along with encouragement to work across federal programs. Passage of an updated CTE bill that gives afterschool providers a more explicit role in planning and providing programming would be another crucial step towards providing students with more seamless in- and out-of-school experiences that propel their future plans and career paths.

For now, make your voice heard! Afterschool professionals can continue to inform local, state, and federal lawmakers of the great work they are doing to prepare youth for careers—see one great example here. Programs can also begin or build upon conversations with CTE State Directors, local school boards, superintendents, and principals to strengthen connections with the education system. 

MAY
5
2017

POLICY
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Legislation proposed to fight chronic absenteeism

By Jillian Luchner

In April, Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) introduced the Chronic Absenteeism Reduction Action (H.R. 1864), which would open up additional funds to be used for strategies to reduce school day absence by amending Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Defined as an individual student missing a significant number of school days (usually 10 percent or more of the school year) including excused and unexcused absences, chronic absenteeism is associated with lower academic performance. The bill contains three main provisions to expand use of authorized Title IV-A funds (also known as Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants) to reduce chronic absenteeism:

  1. Data collection to monitor student progress
  2. Partnerships with local service providers (such as health, transportation and social services) to meet the unique needs of students with struggling attendance
  3. Mentoring programs

Each of these provisions is backed by research showing the positive effects these actions have on reducing chronic absenteeism. As the legislation notes, "students who meet regularly with mentors are 52 percent less likely to miss a day of school than their peers."

The bipartisan bill is endorsed by a number of youth development, health, justice, and education groups including the Afterschool Alliance, National Mentoring Partnership, School Superintendents Association, Campaign for Youth Justice, and Healthy Schools Campaign.

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APR
28
2017

POLICY
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New progress on juvenile justice reauthorization bills

By Jillian Luchner

Juvenile justice legislation has been on the move in both houses of Congress. On April 4, the House Education and Workforce committee marked up and passed H.R. 1809, sponsored by Rep. John Lewis (R-Minn.), by unanimous voice vote. The bipartisan legislation, similar to last year’s bill H.R. 5963, would update the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act for the first time since 2002 to represent new research and findings on effective methods of prevention and rehabilitation for at-risk youth and juvenile offenders. The bill will now go to the full House for consideration. A similar bill passed the full House overwhelmingly last year, 382 to 29.

Meanwhile, senators are working hard to break down the barriers that prevented their version of a juvenile justice reform bill from passing last year. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced S. 860, a carbon copy of last year’s bill, S. 1169, which was held up by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) over his objections to provisions concerning judges’ rights to detain children who violate valid court orders (VCOs). These provisions are expected to be removed from the current bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee under an agreement to make efforts to pass them as a separate bill later in the year.

What is a Valid Court Order?

A valid court order is a direction from a judge to a child in response to a “status offense” for which a juvenile cannot legally be detained, such as skipping school or running away from home. Under current law, if the juvenile does not follow the order, the violation can convert the status offense into a more serious offense for which the youth can be legally detained (a clause known as the “VCO exception”). This means that a youth who runs away once cannot, by law, be placed in detention, but a youth who has run away twice (after receiving a VCO) can be.

Proponents of updating the law hope to protect these status-offending youth from what they view as unnecessary and ineffective detention. Research shows the negative effects of detention on youth include a higher probability of the child becoming a repeat offender as compared to youth in community-based programs. Sen. Cotton, who wants to keep the VCO exception in the bill, would like the decision to remain in judges’ hands.

We are looking forward to the much-needed passage of juvenile justice reauthorization this year. These bills focus on youth and community supports that provide preventative solutions for at-risk youth and rehabilitative solutions for justice-involved youth. The new legislation introduces additional research and community partners that create a caring, forward-looking, and strengths-based support system for our children. If the bills pass through the committees and full chambers of the House and Senate, the final step will be working through the differences between the two bills and securing a final passage.

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