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Snacks by Erik Peterson
DEC
19

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Every Hour Counts, a report from Vermonts PreK-16 Council

By Erik Peterson

Dr. Holly Morehouse is the Executive Director of Vermont’s statewide afterschool network. Vermont Afterschool, Inc., is a statewide nonprofit that supports organizations in providing quality afterschool, summer and expanded learning experiences so that Vermont’s children and youth have the opportunities, skills and resources they need to become healthy, productive members of society.

 

 

For every $1 invested in quality afterschool and summer learning programs, Vermont sees a return of $2.18 in long-term benefits and savings.

This is just one of many findings in a new report, Every Hour Counts: Vermont’s Students Succeed with Expanded Learning Opportunities, from Vermont’s Working Group on Equity and Access in Expanded Learning Time.

The Working Group formed last June as a subcommittee of Vermont’s PreK-16 Council upon direction from the state legislature to evaluate issues of equity and access in Vermont’s Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs), including afterschool and summer learning programs. The group was charged with identifying:  key elements of quality ELOs; ways to increase access and remove barriers to ELOs across the state; and recommendations for how ELOs can support student success in Vermont.

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Caption: Vermont Afterschool, Inc. Executive Director Holly Morehouse (center in blue) presenting the Every Hour Counts report to Vermont’s PreK-16 Council.

Making the case for ELOs

With only six months to collect data, outline our findings and develop meaningful recommendations, time was short. It helped our work immensely to be able to draw on existing research and advocacy materials. Instead of trying to come up with separate quality standards, the Working Group adopted the Afterschool Alliance’s principles for effective ELOs. We also greatly benefited from the release of the America After 3PM report and data, and built off of the Afterschool Alliance’s talking points to emphasize that afterschool and summer programs keep kids safe, inspire learners and help working families.

Connecting to broader conversations in the state

The Working Group was sensitive to concerns over rising costs and increased pressures on Vermont’s education system. Instead of portraying ELOs as something added on top of these demands, we included a section highlighting how ELOs help schools and communities do what they’ve already been asked to do. In particular, the Working Group focused on how ELO programs support Vermont’s education vision by addressing the academic achievement gap and summer learning loss; supporting schools in meeting Vermont’s new Education Quality Standards; and providing opportunities in line with Vermont’s recent “Flexible Pathways” legislation.

Recommendations

Particularly exciting is the report’s recommendation to ensure that by 2020 children and youth in every Vermont community have access to quality Expanded Learning Opportunities. Getting buy-in around that statement is a big step forward for afterschool and summer learning in Vermont.

Even though we included data on how ELOs can save Vermont money over time, the Working Group decided not to include a specific financial request in the report. We wanted to avoid the cost debate that could have distracted from the message. The Working Group felt it was most important to get broad-based buy in behind the report and recommendations first. Now that the PreK-16 Council has approved, the report will be presented to a joint meeting of the Vermont House and Senate Education Committees in mid-January. In the following months, the network will develop a corresponding proposal about what it would take in funding and infrastructure to meet the goals presented in the recommendations (i.e., access in every Vermont community).

Thank you to our funders

Key to the success of the working group was analytical support that the network was able to provide through a Network Data Grant from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the C.S. Mott Foundation. The goal of this grant initiative is to help statewide networks collect relevant out-of-school time data and effectively share the data with state legislators and legislative staff, as well as other key state policy makers. 

 

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Caption: Students engaging in STEM activities at Winooski, VT’s 21st Century Community Learning Center summer learning program.

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DEC
15

POLICY
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UPDATE: FY15 spending bill passed into law; includes increase in federal afterschool funding

By Erik Peterson

After a week of wrangling and late night sessions in Congress, the Senate passed the hybrid continuing resolution/omnibus government-spending bill HR 83 the evening of Saturday, December 13th. The final bipartisan vote in the Senate was 56 to 40. The House passed the bill two nights earlier on Thursday, Dec. 11th, by a bipartisan vote of 219-206. The bill funds most federal programs through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2015, and provides temporary funding for the Department of Homeland Security through a Continuing Resolution that expires on February 27, 2015. The President is expected to promptly sign the bill into law.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 funds the government at $1.014 trillion in discretionary spending in compliance with the bipartisan Murray-Ryan budget agreement of December 2013. Overall the Department of Education was funded at $70.5 billion, a decrease of $133 million compared to FY14. With regard to afterschool and summer learning programs, funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative was increased by $2.3 million for FY15, bringing the total to $1.152 billion, up from $1.149 billion in FY14.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Department of Education ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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DEC
10

POLICY
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FY15 spending bill filed, on its way to House, Senate floor for passage

By Erik Peterson

House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) filed their compromise Fiscal Year 2015 spending bill last night that, if passed by both Chambers and signed into law by President Obama, will keep the federal government funded through September 30, 2015. Currently, the government is funded through a Continuing Resolution that expires tomorrow, December 11th. The bill has strong implications for federal afterschool funding. 

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 funds the government at $1.014 trillion in discretionary spending in compliance with the bipartisan Murray-Ryan budget agreement of December 2013. Overall the Department of Education was funded at $70.5 billion, a decrease of $133 million compared to FY14. With regard to afterschool and summer learning programs, funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative was increased by $2.3 million for FY15, bringing the total to $1.152 billion, up from $1.149 billion in FY14. 

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Budget Congress Department of Education ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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DEC
2

POLICY
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Application currently being accepted for Performance Partnership Pilot (P3)

By Erik Peterson

Late last month, five Federal agencies came together to offer a new opportunity to help communities overcome the obstacles they face in achieving better outcomes for disconnected youth – young people at high school age and older who are not in school and not employed. States, tribes, and municipalities can apply by March 4, 2015, to become Performance Partnership Pilots (P3) to test innovative, outcome-focused strategies aimed at achieving significant improvements for disconnected youth in educational, employment, and other key outcomes.

The P3 initiative enables up to 10 pilot programs to blend funds that they currently receive from different discretionary programs administered by the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Authorized as part of the FY2014 Omnibus spending bill, P3 allows new flexibility under Federal statutes, regulations, and other requirements to overcome barriers and align program and reporting requirements, enabling applicants to propose the most effective ways to use these dollars. In addition, these pilots will receive start-up grants of up to $700,000.

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learn more about: Department of Education Federal Funding Federal Policy Funding Opportunity Youth Development
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NOV
18

IN THE FIELD
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Are you feeding children afterschool? We want to hear from you!

By Erik Peterson

Close to 16 million children live in a food-insecure household, where they are without consistent access to food. Afterschool programs can—and do—play an important role in promoting healthy lifestyles for youth, in part by proving a nutritious snack or meal in the afternoon. The Afterschool Alliance is seeking to learn more about the state of afterschool meals through an online survey.

We need your help to better understand the landscape around providing meals after school. Complete a brief survey by Monday, Nov. 24—which is a follow up survey to one conducted two years ago—and you can help us identify how providing afterschool snacks and meals has changed over time, and what barriers programs face to provide afterschool snacks and meals. The survey should only take eight minutes to complete.

Check out our Afterschool Meals web page for more information on afterschool meals, nutrition education and physical activity in an afterschool setting.

Complete survey here

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learn more about: Equity Health and Wellness Nutrition Community Partners
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NOV
17

POLICY
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After 18 years, both chambers of Congress reauthorize CCDBG

By Erik Peterson

Today the Senate followed the action of the House of Representatives this past September and passed S.1086–The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014: Amended Version. The bipartisan, bicameral bill represents a compromise of the legislation that passed the Senate in March by a vote of 96-2.  Due to the changes in the House version, the Senate has to pass the bill again before sending it to the president’s desk to be signed into law. This marks the first time in 18 years that comprehensive Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization legislation has passed both the House and Senate.

The bill that passed reflects a bipartisan agreement reached by Congressional leaders in mid-September to reauthorize CCDBG after several months of negotiations by Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.), George Miller (D-Calif.), Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) and David Loebsack (D-Iowa), as well as Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Richard Burr (R-N.C.). The agreement will enhance transparency, strengthen health and safety protections, and improve the quality of care for children of low-income families aged birth to 13.

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learn more about: Advocacy Congress Federal Policy Youth Development
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NOV
13

POLICY
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Child Protection Improvements Act could still pass House and Senate

By Erik Peterson

Legislation that would provide affordable and timely background checks to afterschool program providers still has a chance to pass during the 114th Congress.  The Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA - S. 1362 and H.R. 3902) would provide afterschool and other youth-serving organizations with access to nationwide FBI fingerprint searches of potential volunteers at a reasonable cost and turnaround time.  The legislation addresses inadequacies within the current background check system, which include: lack of access to nationwide checks, high cost and an often-lengthy response time. 

In the wake of the 2014 midterm elections, time is running out for Members of Congress to pass CPIA before Congress adjourns in December. The legislation enjoys strong bipartisan support and this month the Afterschool Alliance joined MENTOR and 20 other youth serving organizations in signing letters to Senate and House leaders in support of the bill.

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learn more about: Federal Policy Legislation Youth Development
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NOV
11

POLICY
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Lame duck ahead: FY15 spending decisions on the horizon

By Erik Peterson

After more than a month-long recess leading up to the mid-term elections, Members of Congress are back in the Nation’s capitol and will be in session starting on Wednesday, November 12th for a “Lame Duck” session that must finalize the FY 2015 appropriations spending bills to fund federal government operations for the period December 12, 2014, through September 30, 2015. The government is currently funded through a continuing resolution (CR) at FY 2014 levels.

The Bipartisan Budget Act that passed in December 2013 capped discretionary spending at $1.014 trillion in FY 2015 – essentially the mid-point between Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The agreement restored $63 billion in sequestration cuts over two years, split evenly between defense and nondefense discretionary spending programs. Nondefense discretionary spending (which includes most federal support for afterschool and summer learning programs though the Department of Education and Health and Human Services) is capped at $492.4 billion in FY 2015, however that will change going into FY 2016 at which time nondefense discretionary spending faces a $43 billion (8 percent) cut, unless Congress acts to reverse sequestration.

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learn more about: Afterschool Caucus Afterschool for All Budget Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy
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