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JUN
1
2017

POLICY
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House passes two justice-related bills supporting child well-being

By Erik Peterson

Last week the House of Representatives passed two pieces of juvenile justice-related legislation that will have a positive impact on young people in and out of afterschool programs.

On Monday evening, Congressmen Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) and Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) bipartisan Child Protection Improvements Act of 2017 (CPIA), H.R. 695, passed the House of Representatives. CPIA ensures youth-serving organizations in every state can access FBI background checks for prospective staff and volunteers. On Tuesday, the House passed H.R. 1809, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017, a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act and enhance the focus on prevention. 

MAY
25
2017

POLICY
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Secretary DeVos testifies on administration’s education budget

By Erik Peterson

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Yesterday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on the Trump administration’s newly released FY2018 full education budget proposal. While the hearing mainly focused on school choice, vouchers, and state flexibility, several members of Congress spoke out against the proposed elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) afterschool initiative.

Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) opened the hearing, followed by opening statements by Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.).

Rep. DeLauro ran through a list of programs that are on the chopping block, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which “help keep two million kids safe after school.” Observing that “education is the great equalizer in our country,” DeLauro highlighted the necessity of quality education resources for the most vulnerable.

“We have an achievement gap in this country—and it is worse in high-poverty areas, both urban and rural. Yet these are the very areas we would starve with this budget,” DeLauro said.

Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) noted that afterschool programs are one of her favorite education initiatives because even if you “can’t get behind” educational enrichment activities, these programs can guarantee working parents that their children are safe after the school day ends. She also pointed out the stark contrast between the president’s proposed FY2018 and the bipartisan omnibus package just passed earlier in May.

Secretary DeVos testified in support of the budget, followed by an extended question and answer period. Reps. DeLauro, Lowey and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) all spoke out in support of the Community Learning Centers federal afterschool and summer learning program.

“[This] morally bankrupt budget steals health care from children and food assistance from hungry families in order to pad the pockets of billionaires and defense contractors,” Lee said. “If their budget is enacted, afterschool programs will close. Seniors will be forced to forgo medical care. Parents will have to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table.”

While Secretary DeVos did not directly address the proposed cut to afterschool, she did speak to the need for creativity in education, stating, “ I want to unleash a new era of creativity and ingenuity in the education space. My hope is that—working in concert with each of you—we can make education in America the envy of the rest of the world.”

The afterschool field has long been a home to innovation and creativity and we look forward to continuing to make that case to the Secretary.

The subcommittee is expected to consider the FY2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill later this summer. While the president’s budget proposal eliminates afterschool funding, the subcommittee will ultimately determine the funding level for Community Learning Centers and all other education and human services programs. Earlier this spring, more than 80 members of Congress from all across party lines submitted a letter to the subcommittee calling for full funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Friends of afterschool programs can reach out to members of Congress now, sending a clear message: Americans support afterschool and summer learning programs! Add your voice and take action now, and join us on June 7 for a national call-in day to send a clear message of support for afterschool funding for 2018 and for years to come.

MAY
24
2017

POLICY
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Number crunch: Details from the president's FY2018 budget

By Erik Peterson

Photo of Mick Mulvaney by Gage Skidmore

Yesterday, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney released the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 full budget proposal, following up on the “skinny budget” outline released in March. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the upcoming fiscal year that begins October 1, 2017 (FY18).

Consistent with the skinny budget released in March, the full budget proposal proposes the elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, which funds local afterschool programs in all 50 states. That proposal, which would devastate the 1.6 million children and families, comes in stark contrast to the strong support for afterschool recently displayed in Congress in the passage of the bipartisan FY17 omnibus spending bill last month, which included a $25 million increase to Community Learning Centers.

A budget opposed to research

The budget proposal, titled A New Foundation for American Greatness, attempts to justify the proposed elimination of Community Learning Centers by claiming that a lack of evidence exists that links the program to increased student achievement. In fact, over a decade of data and evaluations provide compelling evidence that Community Learning Center afterschool programs do in fact yield positive outcomes for participating children.

The Community Learning Centers initiative was reauthorized in December 2015 in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and saw its funding increased in the 2016 bipartisan omnibus spending bill. However, even with this strong support across party lines and a wealth of research to the contrary, the administration continues to maintain that the Community Learning Centers program is ineffective. The only evidence the administration uses to back its claim is hand-selected data that ignores more than a decade of evidence from numerous researchers showing that afterschool works. 

In fact, the Department of Education’s most recent report on Community Learning Centers finds that half of the students regularly participating in Community Learning Center programs improved their math and reading grades, two-thirds improved their homework and class participation, and more than half improved their classroom behavior. One out of four students moved from “not proficient” to “proficient” or better in both math and reading test scores. Considering that Community Learning Centers programs work with some of the most disadvantaged children and youth, many of whom would otherwise be unsupervised after school, we should be celebrating these victories.

MAY
23
2017

POLICY
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Trump doubles down: $0 for afterschool

By Charlotte Steinecke

Afterschool funding is still on the chopping block.

The fiscal year 2018 federal budget is in, and it eliminates 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding completely. Despite an overwhelming display of support for afterschool from voters, communities, and lawmakers from across the political spectrum, the White House remains committed to cutting the programs that kids and families rely on. 

When the budget cut was floated back in March, the reaction was swift and absolutely clear: 

  • More than 1,450 diverse organizations signed a letter calling on House and Senate appropriators to reject President Trump’s proposal and fund 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) at or above its current level of $1.167 billion.
  • Eighty-one members of Congress (twice as many as last year) signed a bipartisan letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders urging them not to cut afterschool funding.
  • Researchers across the ideological spectrum spoke out about the value of afterschool programs.
  • Highly respected institutions posted new research summaries demonstrating that afterschool programs provide tremendous benefits – as nearly every study has clearly shown.
  • A Quinnipiac national poll found that 83 percent of voters oppose cutting funding for afterschool and summer programs, with just 14 supporting the administration’s position.
  • Congress provided a modest increase in Community Learning Center funding for the remainder of FY2017, enabling 25,000 more students across the nation to participate in afterschool programs.

As our executive director Jodi Grant put it, the budget cut would be “a stunning blow” to working families, “who count on afterschool programs to provide enriching, educational opportunities for their children during the hours after the school day ends and before parents get home from work.”

But kids are the big losers if this budget cut goes forward. A decade of research show that afterschool works to boost student success. National studies of students who regularly attend 21st Century Community Learning Centers found participants improved math and reading grade level performance, class participation, homework completion, and classroom behavior. For example, in Texas’ 21st CCLC programs, students were more likely to be promoted to the next grade, while a statewide longitudinal evaluation of the After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) program in California found that students participating received higher ELA and math assessment scores. For additional details on these evaluations and to read more state reports, download our 21st CCLC Statewide Evaluation Academic Highlights fact sheet.

And we know that the benefits of afterschool aren’t just for the children in the programs; parents with children in afterschool programs report being more focused at work and being able to work a full day.  That additional security has huge economic results for individual families and for the nation. In fact, according to a study by Catalyst and the Community, Families & Work Program at Brandeis University, parents with children in afterschool programs contribute an additional $50 to $300 billion more to the economy each year.

At a time when 1 in 5 children is unsupervised after the school day ends and nearly 19.4 million children are waiting to get into an afterschool program, “The administration’s proposal is painfully short-sighted and makes a mockery of the president’s promises to support inner cities and rural communities alike,” Grant added. Afterschool is working for millions of American families, and millions more have made it clear that there is immense unmet demand for programs—why would we want to shut them down?

It’s time to speak up in defense of afterschool. Our momentum is strong and we have fought back against one budgetary elimination before: we can do it again, and win. Email your representatives in Congress right now, and join us on June 7 for a national call-in day to tell your representatives that you will not accept elimination of federal afterschool funding. Together, our voices and our advocacy can make the difference that saves afterschool.

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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MAY
1
2017

POLICY
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Afterschool funding preserved in proposed FY2017 spending bill, still under attack for 2018

By Erik Peterson

May 8, 2017 update: The President signed the FY2017 spending bill into law last Friday. Read Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant’s statement on the law.

May 4, 2017 update: Today, Congress passed its final fiscal year (FY) 2017 omnibus spending bill. The bill passed with bipartisan support in both chambers by a vote of 309-118 in the House and 79-18 in the Senate. The president is expected to sign the bill into law during the next 24 hours. For details from the omnibus bill on FY 2017 funding levels for afterschool and summer learning programs, please read below. 

Late on the night of April 30, after a weekend of negotiations, the House released a $1.070 trillion omnibus spending bill which will fund the government through September 30, 2017. Votes on the measure are expected this week, as failure to pass a spending bill by the end of the day on Friday, May 5 would lead to a government shutdown.

What's in the bill?

Congress increased 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding by $25 million over the FY2016 level, to $1.19 billion—a win for children, families and the country. The proposed increase means doors to quality local afterschool and summer learning programs will stay open for 1.6 million students and families. Additionally, it will make programs available for 25,000 of the 19.4 million students currently waiting for access.

This increase is especially noteworthy following President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the program in his FY2018 budget preview, which drove friends of afterschool to reach out to Congress with more than 57,000 calls and emails, energized supporters to turn out at town halls in their communities, and prompted more than 1,400 local, state, and national organizations to sign a letter in support of Community Learning Centers. Champions of the program on Capitol Hill showed strong support for Community Learning Centers as well, with 81 members of the House coming together across party lines and signing a letter in support of the program. A huge thank-you to all who worked so hard in support of Community Learning Center funds.

Other funding streams that can be used to support afterschool and summer learning programs were largely supported in the proposed omnibus:

  • Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG): $95 million increase up to $2.9 billion. Typically about one-third of children served through CCDBG are provided with school-age afterschool care. This funding builds on the consistent funding increases in recent years to help states implement quality improvement reforms in the CCDBG Act of 2014.
  • Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS): AmeriCorps and VISTA are funded at last year’s level. In addition, the bill includes expanded resources for state commissions to build the capacity of national and community service programs at the local level. AmeriCorps and VISTA positons can be used to support afterschool programs.
  • Full Service Community Schools: $10 million, level with last year’s funding. FSCS grants support community schools and often leverage afterschool and summer learning supports.
  • Title I: $15.5 billion, a $550 million increase above FY2016. Title I funds can be used to support school district-provided afterschool and summer learning programs.
  • Title IV Part A Student Support Academic Enrichment Grants: Funded at $400 million, an increase of $122 million over the total for the consolidated programs in 2016 but less than the $1.65 billion authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. These grants were changed so that states will offer them competitively to districts rather than as formula grants, as originally authored in ESSA. Afterschool STEM is an allowable use of the grants, as are physical education, community school coordinators, and a wide range of mental health supports and education technology.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF): The legislation funds NSF at $7.5 billion–$9 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. NSF targets funding to programs that foster innovation and U.S. economic competitiveness, including funding for research on advanced manufacturing, physics, mathematics, cybersecurity, neuroscience and STEM education.
  • Youth Mentoring Initiative: $80 million decreased by $10 million from FY2016. These grants funds support mentoring initiatives for young people in and out of school. 
  • Perkins/Career Technical Education: Funded at $1.135 billion, an increase of $10 million, to support older youth career and workforce readiness education.  

The funding level meets the base discretionary spending caps provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act with $551 billion in base defense spending and $518.5 billion in base non-defense spending. Discretionary funding for the Labor-HHS-Education bill (Division H of the package) is cut by $1.1 billion below the 2016 enacted level.  The Department of Education (ED) receives $68.2 billion, a net cut of $1.1 billion after including the bill’s rescission of $1.3 billion from the Pell grant reserve (i.e., previously appropriated funding for Pell grants that is saved as a surplus until it is needed). 

What comes next?

The House Rules Committee is meeting on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. – an initial step needed to clear the bill for a vote by the full House. The bill could come to the House floor for a vote as early as Wednesday, May 3. The Senate would follow with votes in anticipation of passing the fiscal year 2017 spending bill before the continuing resolution expires this Friday night, May 5.

With both the House and Senate expected to vote on the omnibus spending bill this week, friends of afterschool can reach out to their senators and representatives to weigh in on the importance of the bill.

Though Community Learning Centers see increased funding in this year’s bill, our field must not stop speaking out. We need afterschool supporters to make your voices heard as Congress begins looking to FY2018, the year when President Trump wants to eliminate funding altogether. With your help, we’ll continue seeing wins like the one we’re celebrating today for America’s kids and families.

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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