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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.
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JUL
17

RESEARCH
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Survey says: Summer learning gains ground

By Jen Rinehart

New research from the 2014 edition of America After 3PM, the most comprehensive household survey of how students in America spend their after school hours, shows that summer learning programs are strongly supported by parents and that participation in summer learning programs is on the rise. 

According to the survey of nearly 14,000 families:

  • Eighty-six percent of parents indicate support for public funding for summer learning programs, a statistically significant increase of 3 percentage points over the already very strong support registered in 2009. 
  • One-third of families report at least one child participated in a summer learning program last summer, up from the 25 percent of families reporting at least one child participated when the survey was last conducted in 2009.
  • Demand for summer learning programs for 2014 is high.  More than half of families reported a desire to participate in a summer learning program this summer.
  • Thirteen percent of families reported that summer programs were available to them at no cost in 2013. However, the vast majority of parents paid for programs and the average weekly per-child cost for a summer learning program was $250—high enough to put the programs out of the reach of many children and families.
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learn more about: Afterschool Voices America After 3PM Inside the Afterschool Alliance Summer Learning Sustainability
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APR
10

RESEARCH
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Who's minding the kids?

By Nikki Yamashiro

“Perhaps the most critical decision parents make in balancing their work and home life is choosing the type of care to provide for their children while they work.”  We at the Afterschool Alliance couldn’t agree more with this statement by Lynda Laughlin, author of a Census Bureau report released last week analyzing child care patterns and costs.  A positive and encouraging finding of the report is that the percentage of school-age kids who have no regular child care arrangement—kids in self-care—has decreased, and this is particularly true of children with a single, employed parent.

Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2011” examined the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) data to determine the child care arrangements of preschoolers (children under 5) and school-age kids (children ages 5 to 14) and found that between 1997 and 2011, the percentage of school-age children in self-care who lived with a single, employed parent decreased from 24 percent to 14 percent.  One explanation offered for this decrease was increased investment in afterschool programs.  This rationale is highly probable, given that federal funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers—the only federal funding dedicated exclusively to before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs—was first appropriated $40 million in 1998, and has grown to $1.1 billion for FY2013 and serves approximately 1.1 million kids.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC America After 3PM Economy Evaluations Working Families
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AUG
3

STEM
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Change the Equation: What can we do to get more kids interested in STEM?

By Sarah Simpson

This guest blog was contributed by Change the Equationa CEO-led national coalition committed to improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning through philanthropy, advocacy, and inspiration.

As the Afterschool Snack audience knows, what happens after 3 p.m. can have just as much of an impact in a child’s education as what happens during the formal school day. But in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), only 1 out of every 5 K-12 students gets the chance to engage in these subjects through afterschool programming. This alarming finding formed the foundation of Lost Opportunity, a new report from Change the Equation (CTEq) looking at how this statistic breaks down for kids across America. The report sparked an engaging discussion on July 12 on what this means and how to move STEM out-of-school programming forward from here.

CTEq, a CEO-led initiative that is mobilizing the business community to improve the quality of STEM learning, partnered with Nielsen Research to survey American families and find out just how they’re engaging in STEM learning once the school day ends. After all, as theAfterschool Alliance showed, many parents would get their children involved in afterschool programming if the opportunity was available to them.

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learn more about: America After 3PM Equity Evaluations Events and Briefings Guest Blog Science
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JUL
12

STEM
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New Data on Afterschool STEM Participation

By Jen Rinehart

Today I was lucky enough to be part of the release of Lost Opportunity, a report on afterschool STEM participation by Change the Equation and Nielsen. This is a great new contribution to what we know about participation in STEM afterschool, and while we may not be happy about the results—only 1 in 5 kids participates in STEM afterschool—it is definitely a useful advocacy tool for the field. 

It also affirms many of the trends in afterschool participation that we found in our America After 3PM research. For instance, both surveys find:
  • Urban students are more likely to be in afterschool than rural students.
  • African-American and Asian kids are more likely to participate in afterschool compared to other ethnic backgrounds.
  • Lower-income youth are more likely to participate than higher-income youth. 

There is a difference between the two studies in terms of grade-level participation.  Middle-grade-level kids are most likely to participate in STEM afterschool while elementary school kids are the most likely to be in afterschool overall. Perhaps the heightened middle school STEM afterschool participation can be explained by the longstanding, and warranted, concerns about kids losing interest in STEM during middle school and the resulting curriculum and materials that have been developed over the years to help prevent that from happening. 

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learn more about: America After 3PM Events and Briefings Science
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DEC
9

IN THE FIELD
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Parents Magazine Asks, 'Where Have All the After-School Programs Gone?'

By Ursula Helminski

"Where have all the after-school programs gone?" asks an article in the December issue of Parents, a national magazine reaching 15 million readers, primarily parents.  The article, "The New Latchkey Kids," discusses the dearth of afterschool programs and its effect on families across the country. 
 
Citing the impact of the recession on working parents--who need more affordable care, not less--and the drastic budget cuts suffered by afterschool programs, the author relays the stories of distraught parents who have lost their afterschool support.  Some have been forced to send their children home alone, locking the doors behind them and having frequent check-in's with worried parents over the phone. 
 
Sadly, too many parents share the same experience. Our own Jen Rinehart, VP of Research & Policy, is quoted in the article: "A few years ago many of these families wouldn't have dreamed of letting their kids wait in an empty house.  But in today's economy they often have no choice."  The article shares data from America After 3PM revealing that afterschool needs have jumped 6% since 2004, in every type of neighborhood nationwide.
 
The article can be found online at parents.com.  The article is in the December 2011 issue: The New Latchkey Kids: More than a million grade-schoolers have nobody to take care of them once class lets out. Where have all the after-school programs gone? by Jenny Deam.
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learn more about: Economy Working Families
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OCT
26

RESEARCH
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The Afterschool Alliance Releases State-by-State Afterschool Progress Reports and Consumer Guides

By Jen Rinehart

 

Last week in conjunction with Lights On Afterschool, we released the 2011 State-by-State Afterschool Progress Reports & Consumer Guidessponsored by jcpenney.  The Progress Reports reveal that many states are making progress, but all have unfinished business to keep kids safe and learning after the school day ends.  All 50 states were measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best rating.  No state received a 5 and only nine states (California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and New York) received a 4.  Twenty states received a 3; 19 states a 2; and Delaware and Idaho received the lowest rating of 1.

 In preparing these Progress Reports, we spent months examining how each state is helping keep the lights on for kids and families after school by considering: the availability of and participation in afterschool programs based on data from the landmark 2009 America After 3PM household survey; recent state policy activity and funding for afterschool programs; and state-level leadership on afterschool from policy makers.  Taking a national view, we found:

  • Twenty-one states are currently funding afterschool programs.
  • Thirty-one states have an initiative in place that promotes quality in afterschool programming.
  • Only 13 states have passed legislation that directly supports afterschool programs.
  • Just 15 states have state-level councils, studies, pilots or ongoing legislative activity designed to advance afterschool.
  • Only six states reduced the number of children in self-care in the afternoons from 2004 to 2009, the two years in which national household surveys were conducted.
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MAY
24

CHALLENGE
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The Afterschool for All Challenge: A Research Perspective

By Chris D'Agostino

Now that I can finally catch my breath after an exciting two days of afterschool advocacy, I thought it would be good time to share myAfterschool for All Challenge experience. This year, I ran and participated in two workshop sessions at the Challenge: “Middle School Innovation: Policy and Practice” and “Become an Afterschool Expert”.  Both sessions were well attended with full rooms of over 60 people each, and the attendees were highly engaged in the issues at hand, making for two great research-focused sessions. 

During the morning session, “Middle School Innovation: Policy and Practice,” I was joined by three program directors from our 2010 MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award winners: Rob Abbott (CHENY Beacon), Molly Calhoun (Bridge Project) and Jim Pugliese (LeAp 22).  In the role of moderator, I discussed major policy initiatives relevant to middle school programs including the recently re-introduced Success in the Middle Act, which is sponsored by one of our afterschool champions this year, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  Additionally, I discussed some middle school-specific research that could help make the case for an increase in middle school programs across the country.  After a brief discussion amongst the session’s participants about the challenges the middle grades bring to afterschool care providers and a viewing of an Edutopia video concerning the successful Providence Afterschool Alliance After Zones initiative, I then introduced our first speaker: Rob Abbott, the Director of Youth and Family Services at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation in Brooklyn, NY, who helps to run the Cypress Hills/East New York (CHENY) Beacon afterschool program and talked about his role in the program and the Beacon’s innovative and comprehensive model. Next, Molly Calhoun, executive director of the Bridge Project in Denver, CO, talked about her STEM-related afterschool offerings at Bridge, including the use of digital technology to document science experiments.  Molly also discussed the student-centered approach at Bridge, providing children with a number of different opportunities to grow through project-based learning.  Finally, Jim Pugliese from LeAp 22’s art program in Bronx, NY, discussed how to start a successful afterschool program, stressing that patience and determination are the keys to quality.  Jim also described the importance of instilling a passion for learning and discovery in children so that they remain engaged in their education.  All three of the presenters were truly enlightening and provided the attendees with a rich knowledge base of how an effective middle school program is run.

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool Champions Afterschool for All America After 3PM Inside the Afterschool Alliance
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APR
4

RESEARCH
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Addressing the Unique Challenges of Afterschool in Rural Areas

By Chris D'Agostino

At the Afterschool Alliance, we have always been aware of the challenges facing afterschool programs in rural areas.  In 2007, we released an issue brief specifically addressing the unique viewpoint of rural programs and last year we published America After 3PM: From Big Cities to Small Towns, which highlights the major differences in all aspects of afterschool participation among rural, urban and suburban populations.

Recently, our friends at the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) added a new issue to their Research Update series highlighting the benefits, challenges and successful strategies of afterschool programs in rural areas based on profiles from the valuable HFRP Out of School Time Database.  The issue shows the variety of positive outcomes that afterschool programs can provide for children in rural communities including:
  • Improved school grades;
  • Improvedattitudes towards and engagement in school;
  • Decreased behavioral problems;
  • Increased academic test scores;
  • Decreased drug use; and
  • Improved school attendance
 
While the rural programs profiled in the Out of School Time database all share the rural moniker, they vary both in their geography and in the diversity of the populations which they serve.  The programs represented span from Montana to Georgia and each has a unique focus, whether it is English Language Learning or substance abuse prevention. The Research Update describes the various and distinctive barriers faced by rural afterschool programs while also providing successful strategies that rural programs can employ to overcome these barriers. It’s a must-read for any afterschool or rural education enthusiast, so check it out today, and be sure to look at other programs profiled in HFRP’s very useful Out of School Time database.

 

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learn more about: Evaluations Rural
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