With two weeks to go until the nation faces the fiscal cliff and across the board spending cuts known as sequestration, it is an opportune time to summarize what we know about the potential impact on afterschool and summer learning. Note that the update below represents activity as of Dec. 19, 2012, but the process is fluid and updates will be posted to this blog as needed.
The big picture of the fiscal cliff and sequestration continues to evolve: negotiations between the White House and the Speaker of the House of Representatives continue. Possible outcomes of these talks could be an extension of current deadlines, a ‘grand bargain’ that addresses revenue and spending, or anything in between. Driving the conversation is the possible extension of Bush-era tax cuts and whether extensions should only be provided for those earning incomes less than $250,000 (or another amount) per year. Spending cuts have been acknowledged publicly but little detail is available on that or any other specific component of a possible deal.
In terms of the impact on before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs, there are several different pieces in play: fiscal year 2013 (FY2013) appropriations, the supplemental spending bill addressing relief from damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, sequestration and the possibility that the charitable deduction may be scaled back as part of a ‘grand bargain’ on the fiscal cliff.
While FY2013 appropriations have been funded close to last year’s levels through a continuing resolution that expires in March 2013; there have been efforts this winter to negotiate and pass an omnibus or minibus spending bill that would include Labor, Health and Humans Services (LHHS) and make policy changes in addition to setting new funding levels for the current fiscal year. With regard to afterschool program funding, amounts are expected to be level with FY2012. However, also being discussed as part of the omnibus is bill language that could divert some 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funding away from afterschool or summer learning and instead repurpose funds for a longer school day. While the situation is extremely fluid, at this point it does not appear likely that the LHHS spending bill will pass Congress before the end of the 112th Session at the end of December.
Ensuring all kids have access to afterschool meals was the theme of the latest webinar hosted by the Afterschool Alliance. The webinar, “Feeding America’s Children After School,” was held this past Wednesday and featured speakers that discussed how afterschool programs can successfully implement the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program.
The At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program is a federal child nutrition program that was expanded to every state through the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Afterschool programs that are located in or near a school with 50 percent or more of enrolled students participating in the National School Lunch Program are eligible to participate in the program.
By Jen Rinehart
On Monday, the National Center for Time & Learning released a new report, Mapping the Field: A Report on Expanded-Time Schools in America. The release event also featured the announcement of the TIME Collaborative, an initiative funded by the Ford Foundation. The report maps the expanded-time movement by providing details on the 1,002 schools—approximately 1 percent of all schools—that are expanding time in this country. Among the details from the report:
- 60% of expanded-time schools are charter schools. Nationally, charter schools comprise just 5% of all schools.
- Nearly three-quarters (72%) of expanded-time schools are in urban areas.
- On average, expanded-time schools are providing 66 minutes more time per day than the national comparison.
- Few schools are embracing a longer school year. The average number of additional days is 4.
- More than three-quarters (76%) of the non-charter schools began offering an expanded-time schedule within the last 3 years.
- 7 in 10 expanded-time schools are start-ups. Only 28% are schools that converted from a traditional schedule.
While clean up is underway following the devastation left behind by Hurricane Sandy, the impact on young people served by school-age child care and afterschool programs in the impacted area continues. The following items may be of use to those affected by Sandy, and also represent an opportunity for others to contribute to the recovery.
- ACYF-IM-CC-05-03—This Information Memorandum describes flexibility in spending CCDF funds in response to federal- or state-declared emergency situations.
- CCDF-ACF-IM-2010-01—This Information Memorandum for state CCDF agencies describes FEMA policies related to reimbursement for child care during the emergency sheltering period, including a FEMA fact sheet on this topic. State child care agencies can work with state emergency management officials to include child care as a part of their emergency response.
Most Congressional races have been called and vote counts are winding down: so what do the results mean for youth and children; and for supporters of afterschool and summer learning opportunities? From key Committee leadership to the House and Senate Afterschool Caucus, here is a rundown of potential impact:
Prior to the election, the House Afterschool Caucus stood at 72 bipartisan members. As a result of election, 12 members will no longer be on the House Caucus. Six retired or resigned while four lost re-election, and two won election to the Senate: Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN). Work will begin in the new Congress to recruit additional members to the Caucus. Among those retiring was Rep. Kildee (D-MI), founder of the House Afterschool Caucus, whose seat was won by his nephew Dan Kildee.
In the Senate Afterschool Caucus, prior to the election there were 34 bipartisan members. Going into the 113th Congress in January, six Caucus members have retired. Two new senators were members of the House Afterschool Caucus previously: Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN).
On the House Education and Workforce Committee, as previously mentioned Rep. Dale Kildee retired. In addition to being founder of the House Afterschool Caucus, Mr. Kildee was also ranking member of the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee. Other key champions of afterschool that will not be in the 113th Congress include Rep. Woolsey (D-CA), Rep. Platts (R-PA), Rep. Kucinich (D-OH), Rep. Altmire (D-PA), Rep. Hirono (D-HI) and Rep. Biggert (R-IL) who also championed STEM education and social and emotional learning. In total, there will be 76 new representatives in the 113th House of Representatives.
Back on Oct. 20, 2011, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed their version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill with a number of amendments. Now, nearly one full year later, the committee officially filed the bill and released accompanying report language that provides additional information on the legislative intent. Significant changes were made to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative as part of the ESEA bill. The report language raises new questions about the impact of the legislation on the ability of local school-community partnerships to utilize federal funds to support quality afterschool and summer learning programs, and appears to scale back previous improvements made to the legislation. It should be noted that this ESEA reauthorization bill will not come before the full Senate in the remaining days of the 112th Congress so, consequently, the ESEA reauthorization process will need to restart again next year.
- Language that prevents a federal preference or priority on which approach (afterschool, summer learning, expanded learning for some students, expanded learning for all students) will be used.
- A stronger requirement for partnerships with community-based organizations, with only a narrow exception for rural communities for whom the requirement would be a significant hardship.
- Clarity of existing language to ensure that either the local education agencies (LEAs) or nonprofit partners can be the lead fiscal agent on 21st CCLC grants.
- New language to ensure that effective and innovative approaches to programs can be utilized by grantees.
While Congress is back in session after the August recess, it is only for a short while. The House and Senate are expected to adjourn soon and not reconvene until after Election Day on November 6, but will address a number of priorities while they are still in Washington, D.C.
The federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, 2012 , and Congress has failed to pass any of the 12 annual spending bills to fund the government during upcoming Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. On September 13, the House passed a stop-gap, six-month continuing resolution (H.J. Res. 117) by a vote of 329-91 in order to prevent a government shutdown. The continuing resolution (CR), introduced by House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) provides federal funding through March 27, 2013. This utilizes the Budget Control Act level of $1.047 trillion for discretionary spending (a slight increase of .612% compared to FY2012 funding). The Senate passed the continuing resolution on Wednesday, September 19 by a vote of 76-22, with 24 Republicans joining Democrats. Under the CR, all programs will operate under the same terms and conditions as in the FY2012 bills, so no new programs will start and no programs will be eliminated. While there are several changes addressed by the CR, the bill does not include the 21st CCLC language allowing funds to support a longer school day or school yearthat was added in the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) spending bill that passed the Appropriations Committee last summer. The House LHHS spending bill did not include that language either.
Late last week seven additional states, Puerto Rico and the Bureau of Indian Education submitted requests to the Department of Education seeking waivers from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Based on the waiver requests, four states (Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire and West Virginia) did not check the box for the optional 11th waiver that allows 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funds to be used to lengthen the school day, week or year. Alabama, Hawaii and North Dakota chose to opt-in to the 11th waiver. Waiver requests from Puerto Rico and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are not yet publicly available. While the latest waiver requests have not yet been approved, in all, 20 out of 32 states receiving waivers have checked the 21st CCLC box; 12 states along with Washington, D.C., have not. The six states that have not yet requested a waiver include: Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont (request withdrawn) and Wyoming.
Given the potentially high cost of adding time to the school day, the optional 21st CCLC waiver provision could result in fewer communities having access to quality out-of-school programs, enlarging the already significant unmet demand for quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs across the country. The department initiated the waiver process last fall to give states flexibility from some of the mandates of the 10-year-old NCLB law in exchange for states implementing standards and accountability reforms. Guidance on how states may implement the 21st CCLC waiver has been slow to come, but the Department of Education did issue language clarifying that:
"a state must retain existing 21st CCLC requirements prioritizing school-community partnerships; and the programming provided through a longer school day, week, or year, must not be ‘more of the same’ but instead should involve careful planning by the eligible entity to ensure that the programs or activities will be used to improve student achievement and ensure a well-rounded education that prepares students for college and careers.”