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AUG
30
2016

RESEARCH
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New report reveals how afterschool aids communities of concentrated poverty

By Nikki Yamashiro

Where you live has direct and indirect impacts on the fundamental resources and opportunities you count on, and which many people may take for granted. Your location affects the quality of schools available to you, your access to healthy and affordable food, and your overall wellbeing and future economic success.

This is why the Afterschool Alliance believed it was critical to examine the role that afterschool programs are playing (or not playing) in communities of concentrated poverty. These are neighborhoods, or groupings of neighborhoods, where there is a high concentration of families living below the poverty line. This is the first time that America After 3PM data has been used to look at high-poverty communities that research has found are struggling when looking at economic, academic and health indicators.

In our new America After 3PM special report, Afterschool in Communities of Concentrated Poverty, we take a closer look at the afterschool program experience of children and families living in communities of concentrated poverty, including participation in afterschool programs, barriers preventing participation, activities and services provided by programs, and satisfaction with programs.

Key findings from the report include:

  • The demand for afterschool school and summer learning programs in communities of concentrated poverty is high. Both participation in and the demand for afterschool and summer learning programs is higher in communities of concentrated poverty compared to the national average. 
    • Close to 1 in 4 children living in communities of concentrated poverty (24 percent) participate in an afterschool program, compared to less than 1 in 5 nationally (18 percent). More than half of children in communities of concentrated poverty not in an afterschool program would be enrolled if one were available (56 percent), compared to the national average of 41 percent.
    • When asked about participation in summer learning programs, 41 percent of parents living in communities of concentrated poverty reported that their child participated in a summer learning program and 66 percent would like their child to take part in a summer learning program, higher than the national average of 33 percent and 51 percent, respectively.
  • Parents living in communities of concentrated poverty rely on afterschool programs. Parents living in communities of concentrated poverty looked to afterschool programs as a source of support for their family, more so than parents living outside of these communities. For example, close to 7 in 10 parents living in communities of concentrated poverty reported that snacks and meals were very important in their selection of an afterschool program, 13 percentage points higher than parents living outside of high-poverty areas (68 percent vs. 55 percent).  Parents living in communities of concentrated poverty were also more likely than parents who do not live in communities of concentrated poverty to agree that afterschool programs give working parents peace of mind about their children when they are at work, 82 percent vs. 75 percent.  
  • Afterschool programs provide integral supports for children living in communities of concentrated poverty. An overwhelming majority of parents living in communities of concentrated poverty report that their child’s afterschool program provides opportunities for physical activity (87 percent); homework assistance (81 percent); STEM learning opportunities (78 percent); opportunities for reading or writing (76 percent); and beverages, snacks or meals (75 percent).
  • Key barriers exist regarding access to afterschool programs in communities of concentrated poverty. Accessibility and affordability are two major obstacles affecting the ability of parents living in communities of concentrated poverty to enroll their child in an afterschool program. For instance, more than 4 in 10 parents living in communities of concentrated poverty report that the lack of afterschool programs in their community was a very important factor in their decision not to enroll their child in a program, 14 percentage points higher than parents living outside of areas of concentrated poverty. When asked if the current economic conditions have made it difficult for them to afford placing their child in an afterschool program, more than 6 in 10 parents living in communities of concentrated poverty agreed, compared to 47 percent of parents living outside of areas of concentrated poverty.

The report also includes recommendations to help bring more quality afterschool and summer learning programs to children and families living in communities of concentrated poverty. Integrating afterschool programs and additional supports for families in communities of concentrated poverty, raising awareness of the supports available in afterschool programs, and increasing investment in afterschool program to best support children in communities of concentrated poverty are just a few of the recommendations discussed. To access more statistics on afterschool and communities of concentrated poverty, visit our main America After 3PM page where you can read the full report or executive summary.