By Jen Rinehart
As the official start of summer nears, things have been heating up here in D.C.—and not just the temperature. Congress has really kicked into action on reauthorizations. Check out Erik Peterson’s blog posts on all the recent Congressional activity for more details on that.
But, federal law makers can’t even compete with the work that state legislators have been doing to support afterschool and summer learning in recent months. In fact, a number of state legislatures recently passed (not just introduced!) afterschool related legislation:
- In Illinois, legislators demonstrated their commitment to supporting children and youth in the hours after school by passing a 2014 state budget that included a new $10 million afterschool funding stream to be administered by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, a 7 percent increase to Teen REACH funding—from $8.2 million to $8.8 million, funding for local afterschool initiatives like After School Matters and continued support for child care.
- In Massachusetts, the legislature voted to increase the After School and Out of School Time (ASOST) Quality Grant by 15 percent, ensuring the first new dollars for the grant since 2009. Massachusetts also saw the continued investment of $3 million to the Gateway Cities-Afterschool and Summer Enrichment & Acceleration Academies for English Language Learners and increases for the arts, summer learning and violence prevention programs. Check out the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership’s recap of the final recommendations for all afterschool and youth-related budget line items. Additionally, the Governor’s STEM Council prioritized out-of-school time programs and its partnership with the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership through a March 2013 announcement of incentive fund awards to three regional STEM networks.
- In Texas, legislation establishing an Expanded Learning Opportunities Council was passed by both houses. The Council is the first afterschool and summer dedicated policy in Texas, which makes it a big win for Texas advocates and lays the groundwork for future legislative activity in the state. Texas now joins a number of other states—including Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Nevada and Iowa—that have expanded learning opportunity legislative task forces, commissions or studies. Check out the National Conference of State Legislatures’ brief on State Policies Supporting Learning Outside the School Day for more info on state policy and afterschool.
Kudos to the afterschool and summer learning advocates in these states for helping move this legislation along. These are especially big wins given the budget challenges plaguing states today and are a clear sign of how much state legislators value the role of afterschool and summer programs in keeping kids safe, inspiring learning and supporting working families. If you’ve recently had a legislative win in your state, add it to the discussion here by commenting below!