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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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Snacks by Erik Peterson
OCT
31

IN THE FIELD
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Focusing on the role of afterschool programs during bullying prevention month

By Erik Peterson

While Bullying Prevention Awareness Month concludes today, thousands of afterschool programs nationwide will continue to play an important role in helping to combat bullying among students.  One of our 2011 MetLife Foundation issue briefs outlines strategies that schools and communities can use to help combat bullying through quality, effective afterschool programs. The brief, entitled “Afterschool: A Strategy for Addressing and Preventing Middle School Bullying,” exhibits how afterschool programs that provide access to caring adults and offer a more informal environment that is distinct from the school day allow children to feel safe from peer pressure, build confidence and learn how to deal with bullies.  

The brief delves into every aspect of bullying, including cyber-bullying, and displays the potentially damaging future effects that peer intimidation can have on both the person being bullied and the bullies themselves. In particular, it highlights how dangerous the middle school years can be for children, showing that middle school students—who are undergoing physical, social and emotional transitions—are particularly vulnerable to teasing and intimidation. However, the brief counters with successful examples, showing that afterschool programs can have immense benefits on children’s social and emotional well-being by offering them a sense of community, a chance to develop leadership skills and a safe place to go once the school day ends. Beneficial programs across the country are aiding in the fight against bullying and teaching children that aggressive and detrimental behaviors are not something to be taken lightly.

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learn more about: Issue Briefs MetLife Innovator Awards Youth Development
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OCT
23

RESEARCH
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Two new reports add to the case for investing in youth programs

By Erik Peterson

With Lights On Afterschool upon us and fresh on the heels of the new America After 3PM (AA3) data, two additional reports further make the case for supporting afterschool and summer learning programs. This week, Opportunity Nation released the 2014 Opportunity Index and the Children’s Leadership Council announced a new public opinion poll showing strong support for investing in effective programs that improve the lives of children and youth.

The Opportunity Index is an annual composite measure at the state and county levels of 16 economic, educational and civic factors that expand or restrict upward mobility. The Opportunity Index ranks all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and found that access to opportunity has increased by more than 6 percent nationwide since the first iteration of the Index in 2011. Much of this growth is due to large improvements on specific economic and educational indicators (such as the unemployment rate, Internet access and on-time high school graduation rate). There was less robust improvement on civic indicators such as access to healthful food, volunteerism and access to health care. In spite of gains in opportunity overall, the Index also shows that this progress is not enough to ensure that all Americans, particularly teens and young adults, get their fair shot at the American Dream. In particular, while the number of young Americans ages 16-24 who are neither in school nor working dropped significantly since 2013—from 5.8 million to 5.6 million in 2014—the four-year trend is more modest: there were 5.66 million disconnected youth in 2011. Afterschool and summer learning programs, particularly for older youth, can help close the opportunity gap by engaging young people through quality college and career readiness programs.

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learn more about: America After 3PM Equity Evaluations Youth Development
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OCT
10

POLICY
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Rep. Cicilline announces legislation to strengthen school-community partnerships

By Erik Peterson

Earlier this week Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) announced plans to introduce the Community Partnerships in Education Act, which will help children and families by investing in high-quality afterschool systems nationwide. The bill supports quality afterschool programs by incentivizing and requiring strong partnerships between schools and community-based organizations in an effort to increase student engagement in programs that support education and career readiness.

In an event announcing the bill at Nathan Bishop Middle School in Providence, R.I., Rep. Cicilline, who has served on the Afterschool Alliance board of directors since his days as mayor of Providence, stated “Afterschool programs are one of the single most effective ways to keep children safe outside of school and on track for success. When young people succeed it leads to stronger communities and a stronger economy. The Community Partnerships in Education Act will help keep children safe and ensure children have access to enriching activities out of school.”

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learn more about: Congress ESEA Federal Policy Community Partners
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OCT
9

POLICY
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Afterschool and summer learning supporters promote OST child nutrition programs on Capitol Hill

By Erik Peterson

Nutritious meals provided to children during afterschool and summer learning programs have the dual effect of nourishing students while making them more apt to learn and benefit from enriching activities. And according to Baltimore’s Holabird Academy Principal Anthony Ruby, the shared meals also build a sense of community that helps foster student success. Legislation to strengthen out-of-school-time child nutrition programs could increase this positive impact on young people.

On Oct. 8, Mr. Ruby joined Crystal FitzSimmons of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Elena Rocha of the YMCA of the USA, and Terri Kerwawich of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department in addressing Congressional staff during a briefing on Capitol Hill focusing on feeding children year-round through the afterschool and summer meal programs. 

A standing-room only crowd of policy makers, advocates and media heard about the vital role played by the At-Risk Afterschool Meals and the Summer Nutrition programs in providing nutritious food for hungry children when school is out of session:

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Congress Equity Events and Briefings Federal Policy Legislation Media Outreach Nutrition Summer Learning
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OCT
8

RESEARCH
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Afterschool program found to improve cognitive and physical abilities, school attendance

By Erik Peterson

A recent study conducted by researchers out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and published in the journal Pediatrics concluded that elementary school students who exercised for about an hour a day in an afterschool program had better brain function and were more focused than students who did not engage in much physical activity.  

Researchers conducting the nine-month study of 7- to 9-year-olds randomly assigned 221 students to either a structured afterschool program with a strong physical activity component, or assigned them to a wait list for the program. Children in both groups were tested before and after the study period on a series of cognitive and executive control tasks such as memory, multitasking, and ability to resist distractions while focusing on a specific task, in addition to physical fitness assessments.

Students that participated in the afterschool program attended for two hours per day, with at least 60 minutes spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activities like tag, soccer or dribbling a basketball through an obstacle course. Researchers required students in the study to wear heart-rate monitors and pedometers, and provided healthful snacks and rest breaks.

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learn more about: Evaluations Health and Wellness Youth Development
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SEP
29

LIGHTS ON
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Senate passes Lights On Afterschool resolution

By Erik Peterson

On Sept. 17 the U.S. Senate unanimously passed bipartisan resolution S. Res. 552 celebrating afterschool programs in honor of upcoming Lights On Afterschool Day on Oct. 23, 2014. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus, authored the resolution, which was co-sponsored by Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

Lights On Afterschool is celebrated by thousands of parents, students, leaders and educators around the country, who will join together in October to celebrate the power of afterschool programs to improve the lives of young people.  A large and growing body of evidence demonstrates improvements in school-day attendance, behavior, academic achievement and more among children who participate in afterschool programs. Researchers have also found that afterschool programs encourage increased parental involvement—an important building block for student success.

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learn more about: Afterschool Caucus America After 3PM Congress
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SEP
24

POLICY
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House, Senate approve FY15 continuing resolution

By Erik Peterson

With 12 days remaining in the current federal fiscal year, both chambers approved a continuing resolution (CR) late last week ensuring that the federal government will be funded and operational through Dec. 11. The stopgap measure is funded at $1 trillion, which is less than the Senate would like but more than the Budget Control Act actually allows.  Once the bill expires in mid-December, Congress will have to decide whether to extend the CR a few more months until the next Congress gets organized, or to go ahead and fund federal operations for the remainder of the fiscal year. It's not too late to reach out to your representative and senators to encourage their support of afterschool programs.

Congress is now in recess until after the Nov. 4 election. The Senate has already announced its Nov. 12 return. When Congress returns it will resume as a lame duck session that could address a number of issues in addition to the CR. Many Members of Congress will be in their districts campaigning next month, which presents an excellent opportunity to invite incumbents and candidates to Lights On Afterschool celebrations as a way to raise awareness of  the impact that afterschool and summer learning programs have on children, youth, their families and communities.

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learn more about: Budget Congress Election Legislation
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SEP
16

POLICY
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House reauthorizes Child Care Development Block Grant

By Erik Peterson

Last night the House of Representatives 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 will need to pass the bill again before it can go the president’s desk to be signed into law. The Senate is expected to take action this month. 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 last night  reflects a bipartisan agreement reached by Congressional leaders last week 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: Congress Equity Federal Funding Legislation Working Families
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