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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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learn more about: ESEA Federal Policy Legislation
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
3
2017

POLICY
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What to expect as the first ESSA state plan deadline approaches

By Jillian Luchner

Since the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed in December 2015, a great deal has been done to get ready for implementation and a great deal is left to happen (including appropriations) before the law goes into full effect in the 2017-2018 school year. Eighteen states aim to submit state consolidated plans for the April 3 deadline. You can see those states and learn more about their plans, including the proposed student indicators, on our ESSA state map.

The transition to the new presidential administration has resulted in a few changes to the process, mainly in regards to ESSA regulations and to the state consolidated plan template.

Regulations

On March 27, Trump signed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) legislation rolling back regulations concerning accountability and teacher preparation under ESSA. Those regulations emphasized stakeholder engagement, provided an extended deadline for identification of school support, and set provisions for what types of research could be used in picking a student success and school quality indicator. Individuals supporting the regulations praised the guidelines as offering important clarity and adaptability functions. Others expressed concern that the Department of Education had overreached and been too prescriptive.

FEB
27
2017

POLICY
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Senators celebrate the value of apprenticeship programs

By Jillian Luchner

At left, Sen. Tim Scott speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Photograph by Gage Skidmore. At right, Sen. Cory Booker speaks at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol. Photograph courtesy Sen. Booker's office.

Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) reintroduced the “Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs (LEAP) Act” to the 115th Congress on February 15. The act provides employers with tax credits of up to $1,500 for each eligible apprentice they hire under the program.

Both Scott and Booker have professed deep interests in engaging youth. At Restoring the American Dream, an event hosted by Opportunity Nation on the day of the bill’s release, Scott and Booker spoke to the need to connect youth with opportunities.

“Too often, especially with young people, we tend to look down to the lowest level of expectation,” Scott said.

“It’s not the wealth of our wealthiest that makes our nation great. It’s how we provide pathways for every single child," Booker said. "My father was born poor, segregated environment, single mom…(but the) people who came into his life gave him a little bit of love, a little bit of support, a little bit of a hand up.”

Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.) also spoke at the event, saying she felt a responsibility for helping people to “realize where the opportunities are” and “plug in.”

These efforts show impressive results. The organization Year Up participated in a panel at the event to discuss its one-year post-high school program model that pairs six months of technical and professional skill building with a six-month internship. Research show 85 percent of Year Up participants find full-time employment, with an average starting wage of $18 an hour.

Connecting students to opportunities to practice professional skills and gain work experience is a practice familiar to afterschool programs across the country. Training and experience are valuable across age categories. The people, businesses, programs, governments, and systems that recognize the value of these youth and connect them to opportunities and skills continue to see great returns—economic, social, relational—over and over again.

FEB
17
2017

POLICY
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What to expect from the budget & appropriations processes (and how to make an impact)

By Jillian Luchner

It’s February, which technically means it's time for the release of the president’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. Under new administrations, the budget proposal release date is often pushed back to give the incoming president time to put together a cabinet first. Meanwhile, the budget and appropriations process hasn’t operated as it technically should for years. Adding to the confusion, Congress still needs to finalize FY2017 spending, which currently expires April 28. 

All of this brings us to where we are today. Here's what we know so far about how the fiscal year 2018 (FY2018) budget and appropriations process may roll out in the coming year. 

The president’s budget

With the president’s budget director nominee Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) narrowly confirmed this week, publications like The Hill and conversations around the halls of government suggest that the President is expected to release a “skinny budget”—a condensed list of major budget priorities—within the next month.

A complete budget request detailing the president’s desired expenditures and funding levels for all government departments and programs may be released late in the spring, but timing for the release is very much up in the air.

Congressional appropriations

Last September and again last December, Congress passed continuing resolutions (CRs) to keep the government operating because they could not complete a final FY17 budget. After the election in November, a decision was made to “kick the can down the road” to the new Congress to finalize spending levels for the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2016. These CRs have maintained federal spending at FY16 levels.

The CR passed last December is set to expire on April 28, when Congress will again decide whether to complete spending bills for FY17 by passing individual spending measures or passing an omnibus bill, or to simply continue the CR through the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

If Congress does decide to extend the CR—which currently appears most likely—they will need to consider how to handle recently passed legislation that authorizes funding changes. For example, the Every Student Succeeds Act, which passed in December 2015, consolidates certain education programs that formerly had independent funding streams, and it creates new programs as well. As the law goes into full force in the FY18-19 school year, the government will allocate funding on July 1 and will need to know how much to allocate to which programs. For this reason, Congress must include in a full year CR a number of “anomalies” or changes that reallocate funds.

If Congress decides instead to pass individual appropriations bills, rather than a final CR, it will require reconciling the funding differences between House and Senate funding bills passed by the Appropriations Committees in last year’s 114th Congress. The House appropriations bill maintained the current funding level for 21st Century Community Learning Centers; however, the Senate bill appropriated only $1.050 billion for the programs, a potential cut that would eliminate programming for hundreds to thousands of students in each state and more than 100,000 students across the nation. The new Congress and reconstructed committees in each Chamber may also require additional compromises if new bills are to be passed and reconciled.

As it completes its work on funding for FY17, Congress is also tasked to begin its work on the FY18 budget and appropriations bills, a process that usually begins early in the spring after the president’s State of the Union address. Since there is no baseline yet for FY17, beginning a new process will be challenging. However, one key decision has taken place: the selection of new committee members for the House (R and D) and Senate (R and D) Appropriations subcommittees for Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS).

Recently, we have heard from advocates who have met with members of Congress that finding funding for the president’s expected priorities, such as increasing defense, building a border wall, and infrastructure, could make for a very tight funding landscape. In addition, sequestration will return in FY18 with about a three percent cut from FY17 in domestic discretionary spending caps. 

What will this mean for afterschool?

Because federal funding for afterschool programs is dispersed on July 1, prior CRs did not affect program funding levels. However, the competing priorities and uncertainty around the appropriations process this year make it an important time to reach out. Even those policy makers who have been avid supporters of afterschool in the past may feel stressed by other  funding priorities. Your work to thank supporters and garner new advocates will be essential to sustaining afterschool funding.

What can supporters do to help?

Friends of afterschool, advocates, program staff, parents, mayors, law enforcement officers, community members, and school board members can all let their members of Congress know how important these programs—and the federal supports for them—are to their students, families and communities.

Keeping afterschool at the front of your legislator’s mind and helping him or her understand the impact of this federal support in your community helps ensure they can’t easily make drastic funding cuts to programs when push comes to shove at the negotiating table. They will be able to envision your student, program, and story and the impact this funding has on their constituents and will be reluctant to cut funding—and be more likely to advocate for it to remain.

Write a letter to tell your story. Attend a town hall meeting scheduled to be led by your representative in your community. Make a phone call. Visit lawmakers' district offices or the Washington, D.C. offices of all your representatives. Invite them to visit an afterschool program. Then ask your friends and partners to do the same.

Keep the field and your community alert, too. Write to your local newspapers to showcase and highlight the benefits of afterschool programs in your area. Keep your networks strong and your voice heard. It is going to be a complicated year, but clear voices with a clear message will continue to be heard.

FEB
16
2017

POLICY
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What will House resolutions of disapproval mean for ESSA implementation?

By Jillian Luchner

By Ellen Fern, Managing Director at Washington Partners

On Tuesday, February 7, the House of Representatives voted to overturn Obama administration regulations regarding accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as well as regulations relating to teacher-preparation programs.

H.J.Res.57, which would overturn regulations regarding accountability under ESSA, passed by a vote of 234-190. A few more Democratic members signed on to pass the resolution overturning teacher-preparation regulations, H.J.Res. 58, by a vote of 240 – 181. Both regulations were subject to the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows lawmakers to overturn regulations from the previous administration within a certain period of time. 

The CRA has never been used on education regulations, so if the regulations are overturned via a similar vote in the Senate, it is unclear how the Department of Education would proceed as far as issuing guidance or new regulations. If the regulations are overturned, the Department will be barred from issuing "substantially similar" regulations on these two issues before lawmakers reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Higher Education Act, respectively. At the very least, if the accountability regulations are overturned, the deadlines of April 3 or September 8 for states to submit ESSA plans for Education Department approval, with implementation to start in the 2018–19 school year, would most likely disappear, too.