Salutations! My name is Charlotte Steinecke and I’m delighted to introduce myself as the new Communications and Editorial Associate at the Afterschool Alliance. It’s a privilege to join such a dedicated team united for a worthy cause, particularly at such a politically exciting moment.
As the significantly older stepsister to two school-age boys, I get to see firsthand the way a good afterschool program helps students and parents in so many different ways. Getting to take that personal investment and make it the subject of my work every day is a wonderful opportunity!
I come to the Afterschool Alliance from LivingSocial, where I was the editor on the travel vertical and worked closely with the marketing team. I’ve also worked at various nonprofits and corporate entities in D.C., including the Association of American Medical Colleges and ThinkFoodGroup. I’m a graduate of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, and an indefatigable proponent of holistic—and exceptional!—education at all levels.
As the Communications and Editorial Associate at the Afterschool Alliance, I’ll be managing the Afterschool Snack blog (hello, audience! We’ll be seeing a lot of each other.) and providing communications and editorial support across the organization. I’m thrilled to be able to contribute to the Alliance’s work supporting afterschool programs, providers, families, and students across the nation.
The recent national dialogue and policy landscape has exposed children of all ages to complex discussions about immigration, religion, diversity, safety, and community. In a climate of uncertainty, students can end up feeling frustrated, hurt, alienated, or confused if these often-taboo subjects are not confronted thoughtfully by adults.
Many tools of the trade exist to help students engage constructively and understand themselves, their peers, their community, and their country. When led by trained, well-equipped staff, afterschool and summer programs can provide ideal settings with the necessary time and structure for students to work through complex thoughts and emotions and develop their roles in safe and welcoming communities.
Over the next year, the Afterschool Alliance and a broad range of partners will present “Tools to Build On,” a webinar series of expert testimony, discussions, resources, and firsthand accounts on how to bring out and build up supportive climates during out-of-school time. The first four topics are:
- Supporting immigrant students, families, and communities: Best practices for afterschool programs interacting with immigrant students and families (Wednesday, April 12 at 2 p.m. EDT). Register now.
- Understanding and responding to identity-based bullying: Current frameworks and strategies for educators and youth bystanders (May 2017).
- Building community between police and youth: Working to build positive and productive relationships between children and teens and law enforcement (June 2017).
- Engaging the tough conversation: Learning the skills and tools to help students confront complex issues and feelings in a safe space (July 2017).
All kids deserve to feel welcome, valuable, and safe without exception. These four webinars are just a start, and we’ll be offering more webinars, practical tools, and resources in the coming year. Please join the Afterschool Alliance for this important series.
Facts and figures are crucial in demonstrating the successful outcomes of afterschool programs, but to fully illustrate why and how afterschool works, it’s essential to shine a spotlight on stories and testimonials from kids, parents, educators, and other community members.
As we work to save afterschool funding over the months to come, we want to share stories from as many people as we can to show once and for all that afterschool programs work for people of all backgrounds in every corner of the United States. What’s your story? Tell us.
Not sure where to begin? Check out the Digital Action Toolkit for storytelling strategies and suggestions. Here are some prompts to get you started:
- Before and after. Tell a story about a transformation your afterschool program has caused in your life. How are things different—for you, for your child, or for your career—as a result of your involvement with an afterschool program?
- Favorites. What’s your favorite part of your afterschool program? Is there a memorable project or event that has stuck with you?
- Get some perspective. Use your unique viewpoint to talk about your observations of your afterschool program—kids, parents, program alumni, educators, and afterschool program providers all have different perspectives on afterschool.
- Perks. Tell us about the fringe benefits! If you chose your afterschool program for academic or childcare reasons, what other bonuses have you or your family enjoyed? More friendships or closer relationships with teachers and administrators? A stronger connection to your school or community? Fun memories of shared activities with your family?
- Share your victory! Everybody loves a success story—share your experience confronting a challenge, reaching a personal goal, or otherwise scoring a big win with your afterschool program.
- Illustrate your story. Have a great photo (or photos!) showcasing your afterschool experience? You can upload them alongside your written story.
We want to hear about the positive impact the program has had on kids, parents, schools, and the community overall. Every program has a story to tell—we can’t wait to read yours!
On March 16, the Aspen Institute held its annual Summit on Inequality & Opportunity in Washington, D.C. The conversations this year largely focused on income inequality and the difficulty of upward financial mobility for low-income families, contributing to the widening opportunity gap in the United States.
In the first panel of the day, Jonathan Morduch, Professor of Public Policy and Economics at New York University, and Rachel Schneider, Senior Vice President at the Center for Financial Services Innovation, talked about their book The Financial Diaries and what they learned from tracking the finances of 235 low- and middle-income families over the course of a year. One key finding from the study demonstrated the overwhelming amount of income instability that low- and middle-income families experience from month to month and how it affects their daily lives and the way they plan their finances.
|Photos by Every Child Matters|
Following the release of the president’s budget proposal, Every Child Matters is calling on the afterschool field to send Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), evidence and testimonials that before- and afterschool programs work.
Join a growing cohort of afterschool program providers, teachers, parents, and state and national partners in a coordinated online-offline effort to send a #Message2Mulvaney. Here’s how:
- Gather a group of afterschool supporters and write messages on brown paper lunch bags. Mail your bag to the Every Child Matters national office by Tuesday, March 28—they’ll hand-deliver your messages to Mulvaney himself.
- Sign the #Message2Mulvaney petition and share your message to Mulvaney. The Every Child Matters team will write it out on a brown paper lunch bag and deliver your message to Mulvaney’s office.
- Tweet out your message using the #Message2Mulvaney hashtag.
Eager to learn more? Check out the #Message2Mulvaney partner toolkit for resources like sample Facebook and Twitter posts and graphics and plenty of inspiration from your fellow supporters! For more ways to join the fight to save afterschool funding, visit our action center.
This post is presented as part of the Afterschool Spotlight blog series, which tells the stories of the parents, participants, and providers of afterschool programs. This post is also an installment in our Afterschool & Law Enforcement series, which explores the ways afterschool programs are partnering with police to keep communities safe and growing strong. Our latest installment of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement series highlights three recommendations for police officers working with afterschool programs.
Liam McEvilly, Program Director of the Bainbridge Island Boys & Girls Club, is a former police officer. While serving in the police force in the United Kingdom, McEvilly often worked with youth development organizations, inspiring him to make a career change and work with children full time.
When he found a home on Bainbridge Island in Washington state, McEvilly wanted to reach out to the local police department to let them know that they were welcome to stop by the program when on duty in the area. A parent in the program connected him with Officer Carla Sias, who works on community relations for the Bainbridge Police Department.
Officer Sias began coming to the Boys & Girls Club weekly to talk and play with the kids. Sometimes she brings in other officers from her department as well—in December, they threw an ice cream party for the club. When Officer Sias is there, she joins the kids in their daily activities. That might mean joining a game of pool, coloring, or walking students to a close by senior facility to read to residents. She sometimes talks to the kids about public safety or answers their questions about police while they play.
For many kids, playing with an officer after school allows them to learn more about a profession they have not learned a lot about. Afterschool often provides a casual environment for officers and kids to get to know each other as people. It is an opportunity for students’ typical interactions with officers to be positive experiences, rather than only encountering police officers if a negative situation occurs.
For others, interacting with an officer might be more challenging. On her first day at the Boys & Girls Club, Officer Sias met a middle school student who had faced a negative experience with a police officer when she was young. Seeing an officer in her afterschool program made the student uncomfortable. Officer Sias was able to talk with the student about her past, answer questions about the role of police, and connect with the student’s school guidance counselor to make sure the student was getting the support that she needed. The two were able to form a bond and they now check in on each other when they see each other at the club.
In addition to spending time with kids at the club and forming their image of police through positive interaction, Officer Sias has seen her involvement with the Boys & Girls Club affect other interactions outside of afterschool. Now when she visits schools, she is able to greet the kids she has spent time with afterschool, forming a stronger bond.
Officer Sias tries to develop a relationship with the staff, as well as the kids. She works hard to make sure she is an asset to the club, providing them with resources and support they might not otherwise have. She is happy to step in where she is needed and step out where she is not. Soon, when she has had time to identify the needs of the kids at the Boys & Girls Club, she might collaborate with staff to create a more structured public safety-focused program and curriculum.
By Nicole Lovecchio, Chief Program Officer at WINGS for kids.
The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the third installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which turns to program providers in the field to answer some of the common questions asked about program evaluation. Be sure to take a look at the first and second posts of the series from Dallas Afterschool and After-School All-Stars.
As afterschool providers, we know that the hours from 3 to 6 p.m. offer an incredible opportunity to engage students who need it most and help them feel more connected to their peers, the school day, and to their community—and the key to maximizing that potential lies in the skills and abilities of the afterschool staff.
For many years we worked on codifying and documenting every element and detail of our program. We created manuals explaining how we ran our social and emotional learning (SEL) afterschool program in an effort to replicate our program throughout several sites in the Southeast. We then focused heavily on fidelity and the implementation of these program elements.
Along the way, we realized that a checklist of items, however exact, couldn’t guarantee a high-quality program. By gathering data on our staff and kids, we were able to see the shift that was needed: clearer focus on building up the skills of our staff on the ground.
3 ways data collected impacted program quality
Improving adult skills and practices. Quarterly program assessments (observations) of our sites uncovered a trend indicating that our staff (12 college-aged mentors per site who work in 1:12 ratio with students) were primarily focused on reacting to the negative behaviors of our kids. Because our staff was reactive instead of proactive, there was little room for engaging activity. Therefore, we redesigned staff trainings and redefined the WINGS approach to SEL, all with a focus on building adult skills and practices first and foremost.
By Rachel Clark
By John Thoresen, CEO of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
More than one in six children suffer from physical abuse, and one in 10 children will be sexually abused—often by someone they know and trust. Yet, in spite of these shocking statistics, there have historically been few resources available to help afterschool providers talk with children about abuse.
That’s why we worked with nationally-recognized child advocates, educators, therapists and scholars to create the “Protect Yourself Rules” videos—a free, first-of-its-kind educational series. We engaged an executive of Nickelodeon’s Rugrats to develop the videos for children using non-threatening, animated characters similar to what they’re used to seeing outside the classroom on electronic devices, television and movie screens.
The animated videos educate school-aged children in grades K-6 about what to do when confronted with an abusive situation by emphasizing three simple rules: Shout. Run. Tell. The videos also reinforce lessons such as:
- Tell a Grown-Up
- It Doesn’t Matter Who It Is
- Hitting is Wrong
- Stranger Safety
- Internet Safe Choices
- Shout, Run, Tell
The series aims to empower children to protect themselves by helping them recognize abuse and giving them simple, memorable rules to make sure the abuse stops—or better yet, never starts.
The free videos are available for afterschool programs, summer programs, school classrooms, community organizations, religious groups, clubs, advocacy groups, Scouts, and other interested organizations. We also developed lesson plans to help afterschool program staff guide discussions with kids about the rules.
Visit fightchildabuse.org to download the free video series and accompanying lessons. Every child in an afterschool program needs this information and statistics would indicate that some of them—the faces behind the statistics—can’t wait.