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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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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Legislation
APR
24
2017

POLICY
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Experts speak up for Community Learning Centers on Capitol Hill

By Erik Peterson

Photo by Alex Knapp.

More than 70 attendees including dozens of staff representing senators and representatives from across the U.S. packed a briefing room in the Russell Senate Office Building last Friday, April 21, to hear from a panel of Community Learning Center providers. Local afterschool and summer learning programs leverage the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative to provide quality learning experiences to young people when school is out. Representing Community Learning Center programs from urban, suburban, and rural locations across the country, the speakers spoke to the evidence that their programs achieve a wide range of meaningful outcomes for the 1.6 million children that participate in Community Learning Centers each year.

The briefing was organized by the Afterschool Alliance and the Senate Afterschool Caucus, chaired by Senators Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Franken (D-Minn.), along with a host of afterschool stakeholders: After-School All-Stars, American Camps Association, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Save the Children, Communities in Schools, Every Hour Counts, National AfterSchool Association, National League of Cities, National Summer Learning Association and the YMCA of the USA.

Education policy staff for Senators Murkowski and Franken kicked off the event by welcoming fellow staff members and introducing panel moderator Jennifer Peck, president and CEO of the Partnership for Children and Youth based in northern California. Peck set the stage for the event by citing key research and evidence demonstrating the positive impact of Community Learning Centers on student academic outcomes as well as on other indicators of student success. She then introduced the panelists who spoke about their programs, citing research and relating personal stories that demonstrate the profound life-changing effects of quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Congress Federal Funding
APR
21
2017

IN THE FIELD
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How to plan a successful site visit for your representatives

By Charlotte Steinecke

As Congress’ Memorial Day recess approaches, your afterschool program has an excellent opportunity to organize a site visit and show your representatives the important work your program is doing. Site visits are a fantastic way for new and established programs alike to build up relationships with elected officials, and for elected officials to see firsthand that afterschool works.

To kick start your site visit planning, here are some top tools and strategies for maximizing your site visit’s impact.

Resources

  • Check out the Afterschool for All Challenge toolkit. You’ll find a general overview of how to host a successful site visit, some do’s and don’ts for a great event, and a sample invitation for you to send to your member of Congress. Our outreach strategies page also has a five-step plan to conducting a great visit.
  • Explore a toolkit from a statewide afterschool network. The Indiana Afterschool Network’s toolkit contains tips, techniques, and templates to make a site visit a success. Read through the planning guide, use the event checklist, and learn how to pitch your site visit to local media to boost your event’s profile.
  • Watch a webinar. While you’re developing your strategy, it’s helpful to hear firsthand accounts from other programs and afterschool advocates about their experiences conducting site visits.  Check out our webinar on the impact of the president’s budget proposal, with tips from a program director on the best ways to maximize your site visit’s impact.

Strategies

  • Do your research. Know who your elected officials are and what subjects are most important to them. Having insight into a policy maker’s platform makes it much easier to design a visit that will persuade them: if a policy maker has repeatedly expressed concern about childhood obesity, highlighting the work your program does to encourage healthy eating and physical activity will resonate!
  • Find your champions. Identify the students, parents, program staff, school officials, and other individuals who are best equipped to represent your program. Ask them if they’d be interested in attending the visit, give them some background on the official who will be present, show them a basic schedule, and encourage them to prepare for a conversation.
  • Showcase your best programming. Select the programming you want to highlight during the visit—STEM learning sessions and other academic enrichment are often the top picks for visits. Include the policy maker in snack time and let them interact with your student representatives before facilitating a discussion between parent representatives and the policy maker. The opportunity to let an elected official talk with their constituents about the importance of afterschool is not to be missed!
  • Follow up after the visit. The visit may be over, but the conversation has just begun! Be sure to send a thank-you message after the visit and stay in touch with your representative. Having a strong relationship with your elected officials is key to the long-term wellness of your afterschool program.

Finally, here’s some advice from Kim Templeman, a former Afterschool Ambassador and elementary school principal who hosted a successful site visit at her afterschool program:

“Be persistent. Don’t feel like you are imposing on the official’s time—they are there to represent you, and their job is to understand and get involved in what you do. … Be prepared to talk specifics. Don’t just say ‘we still need your funding.’ Explain to the official how you budget your program and show the official what funds support different activities. That way, the official can understand the reality of an afterschool program’s needs, and what your program needs most.”

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learn more about: Congress
APR
13
2017

POLICY
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Letters send wave of afterschool support to Capitol Hill

By Jillian Luchner

On April 10, the Afterschool Alliance released a letter signed by 139 national and more than 1,000 state and local organizations, calling on House and Senate appropriators to fund the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative at or above its current level of $1.167 billion and reject President Trump’s call to end federal funding for afterschool programs.

Also on Monday, Representatives Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) sent a bipartisan Dear Colleague letter signed by 81 members of Congress to House Appropriations Committee leaders Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) with a similar message, calling for “funding of no less than $1.167 billion” for Community Learning Centers. The letter was applauded by afterschool advocates and the Afterschool Alliance.

Inside the sign-on letter

“Quality afterschool and summer learning programs are vital to communities across the nation,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant in releasing the organizational letter. “The idea that the federal government would abandon the students and families that rely on afterschool is unthinkable. President Trump’s misguided proposal to eliminate 21st Century Community Learning Centers has triggered a tidal wave of opposition that’s reflected by the diverse and powerful voices that are calling on Congress to continue—or increase—federal funding for afterschool. This funding directly supports afterschool programs for 1.6 million children across the country.”

National signatories of the letter include youth-serving organizations, education groups, and organizations focused on hunger, fitness, gender equity, health, the arts, and law enforcement, among others. The list was signed by the American Federation of Teachers, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, FBI National Academies, Girl Scouts of the USA, National Association of State Boards of Education, National School Boards Association, National Education Association, National League of Cities, National PTA, National Rural Education Association, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, STEM Education Coalition, United Way Worldwide, and YMCA of the USA.

The list of state and local organizational signatories is similarly broad, with signers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The letter is addressed to the chairs and ranking members of key appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate.

The organizations wrote, “In every state and almost every Congressional district, 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding supports afterschool and summer learning programs that offer locally based school and community solutions that keep children and teenagers safe, inspire young people to learn and support working families.”

Inside the Dear Colleague letter

In the Dear Colleague letter to appropriators in the House, the 81 signing representatives called for at least level funding of 21st Century Community Learning Centers, citing a meta-analysis of 75 separate studies which showed that afterschool students demonstrated improved behavior and performed better academically than students who did not participate in afterschool.

The letter also mentioned the impact programs have on the workforce: “More and more working families rely on 21st Century Community Learning Centers each year to ensure their children are in a safe environment during non-school hours, allowing them to excel in their jobs.”

In the face of a dire threat from the White House, this outpouring of support is encouraging to the afterschool field.

“It’s clear from these two letters that policymakers, educators, parents and a wide variety of organizations, including those focused on health, law enforcement, science education, arts and more, recognize the tremendous value afterschool programs provide,” said Grant. “The president’s proposal to eliminate Community Learning Centers doesn’t have any more traction around the country than it does here in Washington. It is up to Congress to make sure the federal budget reflects this clearly expressed demand for continued, even increased, federal support for afterschool.”

Last year, a similar congressional letter was signed by 40 members. This year’s 81 signatures show a doubling of congressional support for Community Learning Centers, which Trump’s February budget outline put on the chopping block.

What's next?

Members of Congress (find yours here) are on recess and back in their home states and districts. It’s a great time to contact them about the importance of before-school, afterschool, and summer programming to you and you community.

There are lots of ways to get in touch with your representatives and show your support: send your representatives a letter or an email, post on social media, make a phone call, pay a visit to their local office, talk to them at town hall meetings or press events, or invite them to come and see your local program at work. You can also write to your local newspaper or TV station, since lawmakers will be sure to catch up on the local news while at home.

With big budget decisions on the horizon, the voices your representatives hear now and their frequency, diversity, and strength are more critical than ever before. The letters and calls in support of afterschool are streaming in and the strategy is working to influence policymakers. Add your voice and personal story to the chorus. 2017 is an important year for the children, families, and communities who need affordable quality afterschool!

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learn more about: Budget Congress Federal Funding
APR
4
2017

POLICY
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6 steps to get a meeting with your representatives

By Charlotte Steinecke

As the spring recess comes to DC, many senators and members of Congress will soon be back in their home districts. It’s an opportunity for constituents (like you!) to meet with lawmakers face-to-face and directly communicate the importance of afterschool in their community. Meetings with representatives offer a chance at a meaningful conversation about afterschool and studies have shown that site visits are powerful tools to make the case for afterschool.

Make the most of the recess with a phone call to your representative, asking to set up a district office meeting or a site visit so they can see the incredible work being done in your afterschool program.

  1. Establish your goals. Are you interested in inviting your representative to visit your afterschool program, or would you prefer to set up a meeting at the representative’s office to discuss your concerns about President Trump’s proposal to eliminate 21st Century Community Learning Centers? Decide on your strategy.
  2. Find your Senate and House representatives. Click through to your senator or representative’s website to find district office locations in your state—many reps have more than one!
  3. Get in touch. The best way to communicate with your representative is through a phone call.  Phone up the district office nearest to you and make your request. A simple script is all you need: “Hi, my name is [your name] from [your town] and I would like to schedule a meeting with the senator/congressperson to discuss the importance of afterschool funding and share some information about our afterschool program. What is the senator/congressperson’s availability during the spring recess?”
  4. Prepare for the meeting. Brush up on some talking points. If you decide on a site visit, check out our guide to hosting a successful congressional visit to maximize the impact of the experience. If a district office meeting is more suitable, brush up on your representative’s stance on education and afterschool and prepare some clear questions and requests to help keep the conversation on track.
  5. Tell the world. If you do manage to schedule a meeting during the recess, we want to hear how it went! Please share your story through our survey tool and be sure to tweet and post on Facebook about the meeting.
  6. Don’t give up! If your representative’s schedule is too packed to accommodate a visit or meeting in the immediate future, don’t be discouraged! The act of calling your representative sends a powerful message about your concern for and passion about afterschool—as a constituent, this message matters.

Many representatives are very busy during their spring recess, visiting around the state and interacting with constituents—but simply making the phone call is in itself an important way to show where you stand on protecting afterschool resources for kids. Whether you schedule a site visit, attend a district office meeting, or just make a phone call, carving a slice of your representative’s attention for afterschool is one of the best ways to have an impact on their decision-making process.

Looking for more ways to take action? Check out the Take Action to Save Afterschool page for more resources and strategies.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Congress Federal Policy
MAR
29
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: March 29, 2017

By Luci Manning

Trump Proposal Hits After-School Programs (Houston Chronicle, Texas)

Almost 130 afterschool programs in the Houston area may lose federal funding under President Trump’s proposed budget calling for the elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. More than 103,000 students across Texas participate in afterschool programs and their participation results in demonstrable academic benefits like increased attendance and improved test scores. “For a lot of these kids, we feel like we’re the difference,” Communities in Schools senior project director Kam Marvel told the Houston Chronicle. “Offering 15 additional hours of education a week improves the chances of passing the test and increases exposure to certified teachers.”

21st CCLC Funds, Afterschool Programs in Danger from Proposed Cuts (Lake News, Missouri)

Some 1,500 students in Lake area schools take part in afterschool programs like Afterschool Ambassador Colleen Abbott’s LEAP program (Learning Enriched Afterschool Program), engaging in STEM learning, physical education, and homework help. Despite the improved test scores, grades, and attendance records of participating students, LEAP and other programs may lose funding under the president’s proposed federal budget. Abbott believes these programs are essential not only for students but also for working parents. “The families we support are hardworking individuals who strive to provide for their kids in order to give their children opportunities to succeed,” she told the Lake News.

Local After-School Programs Face Cuts with Trump’s Proposed Budget (Press of Atlantic City, New Jersey)

President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to afterschool programs would be devastating for students and parents in New Jersey, according to advocates and program operators. “Losing this would be a devastating blow to our students and families,” Wildwood supervisor of curriculum Josepha Penrose told the Press of Atlantic City. “This does allow more parents to work knowing their children have a safe place to go after school.” Programs like the Boys & Girls Club serve 26,000 students in 57 school districts across the state and give students a safe, engaging place to spend the hours after school ends and before their parents get home from work.

After School Funding a ‘Critical’ Need for Kids (Argus Leader, South Dakota)

In a letter to the Argus LeaderAfterschool Ambassador Heather DeWit explains why afterschool programs are critical for her children and other students throughout South Dakota: “The caring adults in after school and summer programs have made a positive difference for both my children. They have had opportunities to make a difference in their world, been supported by positive role models and learned new things, all while I was busy at work... The economic toll we would face in South Dakota. if working parents lost this critical support, the risk factors our children would face, and the incredible benefits our children would lose, make this an obvious area where cuts would be tragic.” 

MAR
27
2017

RESEARCH
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New poll out: Americans strongly support funding for afterschool

By Nikki Yamashiro

A new national Quinnipiac University poll released late last week finds that American voters overwhelmingly oppose the proposed federal budget cuts to afterschool and summer learning programs. With 83 percent of voters saying that cutting funding for afterschool and summer programs is a bad idea, Tim Mallory, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll includes afterschool as one of the programs where, “it’s a stern ‘hands off’ from voters,” when it comes to cutting funding.

Funding for afterschool and summer learning programs has bipartisan support, with majorities from all parties—97 percent of Democrats, 87 percent of Independents, and 63 percent of Republicans—saying that cutting funding is a bad idea. It also has widespread support across communities, with 78 percent of voters in rural communities and 87 percent of voters in cities agreeing that it is a bad idea.

This poll reinforces previous findings on the broad support for public funding of afterschool and summer learning programs. Our 2014 America After 3PM national household survey found that 84 percent of parents were in support of public funding for afterschool programs, including 91 percent of Democrat, 86 percent of Independent, and 80 percent of Republican parents.

If you also believe that federal funding for afterschool and summer learning programs is critical and you want to show your support, you can add your voice to the chorus of voices standing up and speaking out for afterschool.