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Snacks by Erik Peterson
APR
30

POLICY
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FY2016 appropriations process continues in House and Senate

By Erik Peterson

With House and Senate Budget Committee Chairmen announcing this week that the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Conference has reached an agreement on a joint Congressional balanced budget resolution, the FY2016 appropriations process is starting to move forward in earnest.  A challenge for appropriators will be meeting the needs of children and families given the constraints of lower spending levels.

House and Senate appropriations committees have begun holding hearings on the FY2016 spending bills, including Labor, HHS, Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee hearings featuring testimony by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and a public witness hearing this week.  At the House subcommittee hearing in early March, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) emphasized the importance of maintaining strong investments in afterschool programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative.

This week, Karen West, Special Projects Curriculum Supervisor, Corbin Independent Schools of Corbin, Kentucky, represented the Afterschool Alliance at a public witness hearing of the Subcommittee, presenting heartfelt testimony and calling for continued federal support of 21st CCLC, stating:

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Policy Legislation
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APR
20

POLICY
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Every Child Achieves Act passes Senate HELP Committee, includes 21st CCLC afterschool program

By Erik Peterson

The Senate HELP Committee concluded its three day mark-up of the bipartisan Every Childs Achieves Act of 2015 last week, unanimously passing the new ESEA reauthorization bill and sending it to the Senate floor for consideration later this spring or in early summer. The bill now includes Sen. Murkowski’s (R-AK) bipartisan 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) amendment that passed by unanimous consent earlier last week—a significant step towards ensuring that 1.6 million young people will remain in the afterschool and summer learning programs they currently attend.

The 21st CCLC amendment that was included in the Every Child Achieves Act is based largely on the bipartisan Afterschool for America’s Children Act (S. 308) introduced by Sens. Murkowski and Boxer (D-CA) that is the product of five years of discussion with afterschool providers, parents, young people, national youth development groups, state education agencies, and other stakeholders. The amendment strengthens the 21st CCLC initiative by emphasizing better data sharing between schools and community based organizations; updating allowable uses to include STEM, physical activity, nutrition education, financial literacy, workforce development programs and more; expands program performance measures; adds a role for external intermediary organizations; and highlights professional development for program staff.

The inclusion of 21st CCLC is a true win for young people, parents and communities, and is a result of the strong bipartisan support of Sens. Murkowski, Murray (D-WA), Franken (D-MN), Sanders (I-VT), Cassidy (R-LA), Collins (R-ME), Baldwin (D-WI), Boxer , Warren (D-MA) and others, as well as the outpouring of  support from so many stakeholders – including 17,400 individuals who signed a petition supporting 21st CCLC; 560+ local, state and national groups who signed a letter of support; and more than 5,000 emails that were sent to Senate and House offices since January when draft legislation released by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee first proposed to eliminate 21st CCLC.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC ESEA Legislation
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APR
14

POLICY
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Critical Senate committee vote this week on 21st CCLC afterschool and summer learning funding

By Erik Peterson

Today the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is scheduled to begin consideration of the bipartisan bill from Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), dubbed the “Every Child Achieves Act.”  The Committee begins discussion of the bill and more than 85 amendments at 2:30 p.m. EDT this afternoon and the process could last several days.    

In general, the Every Child Achieves Act significantly reduces the federal role in K-12 education while preserving some accountability requirements.  A summary of the bill discusses the strengthening of state and local control over education decisions, the continued requirement for limited and appropriate tests to measure student achievement, and support for teachers and principals.  The full bill language is also available.

Of note to supporters of afterschool programs, the Every Child Achieves Act as drafted would eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) initiative—the separate, dedicated federal funding that provides 1.6 million low income children with quality afterschool, summer learning and before school programs.  However, during HELP Committee consideration of the bill this week, Senators will vote on a bipartisan 21st CCLC amendment offered by Senators Murkowski (R-AK), Sanders (D-VT), Franken (D-MN), Cassidy (R-LA), Collins (R-ME) and Baldwin (D-WI) that would restore 21st CCLC while also strengthening the program.  The amendment reflects what has been learned over ten years of extensive research on student academic and nonacademic outcomes gained through regular participation in quality before school, afterschool and summer learning programs.  It also adds additional flexibility to better support strong partnerships between schools and community-based organizations through compromise language that would permit 21st CCLC funds, previously limited to supporting programs outside of the school day, to support specific allowable ‘afterschool-like’ activities that are offered in conjunction with an expanded learning program.

The Afterschool Alliance joins 17,390 Americans who signed a petition asking Congress to continue federal support of afterschool programs, as well as more than 560 local, state and national organizations from all 50 states that wrote to the Senate HELP Committee this winter urging Congress to maintain the 21st CCLC initiative as a separate and specific federal funding stream for school and community partnerships to support students in grades Pre-K through 12 afterschool, before school and during the summer.

Parents, educators, health professionals, law enforcement officials, young people and other supporters of afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs can take action now by reaching out to Senators, particularly if they are on the Senate HELP Committee, in support of the bipartisan Murkowski Sanders 21st CCLC amendment that would ensure quality afterschool and summer learning programs continue to be provided to more than 1.6 million students.

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APR
10

FUNDING
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Development of non-cognitive factors and out-of-school STEM priorities in new round of i3 grants

By Erik Peterson

The Department of Education has issued a notice seeking applications for Investing in Innovation (i3) Development grants for fiscal year 2015.  Two of the five priorities specifically emphasize programs where we know afterschool providers excel: programs that emphasize the development of non-cognitive factors and hands-on, inspirational programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.  Non-cognitive factors can emphasize a range of skills and behaviors including academic behaviors, academic mindset, perseverance, self-regulation and socio-emotional skills. The notice describes the intent to identify solutions to support the growing body of research that suggests interventions enhancing student’s non-cognitive skills can help lead to success in the classroom and later in life.  The Department of Education is also interested in how to measure and evaluate social and emotional skills in order to offer programs that best support students. 

In addition to applications supporting non-cognitive factors, the Department also invites applications supporting out-of-school STEM.  Citing the greater and greater need for students proficient in STEM skills to fill jobs in the American economy, the Department of Education seeks applications for projects that will reach students beyond the school day, give them opportunities to get hands on learning experiences in the STEM fields, and inspire them to pursue STEM career paths.  Programs can extend the day, week or year, and occur before-school, after-school or during the summer.  

In addition to non-cognitive development and STEM, i3 Development grants can cover three other priorities.  The Absolute Priorities all together under which the Department of Education seeks applications are:

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APR
7

POLICY
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Take action to support afterschool and summer learning!

By Erik Peterson

On April 7, 2015, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced a bipartisan agreement on fixing “No Child Left Behind.” While the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative is currently not included in the bipartisan draft bill, dubbed the Every Child Achieves Act, it is expected to be proposed as a bipartisan amendment during the mark-up of the bill beginning on April 14th at 10 a.m. EDT. The mark-up could last three to four days.

The newly proposed, bipartisan legislation is the result of Chairman Alexander and Senator Murray working together over the past six weeks to develop an Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill that continues to measure the academic progress of students but restores to states, local school districts, teachers, and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement.

Friends of afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs can take action now by reaching out to Senators, particularly if they are on the Senate HELP Committee, in support of a bipartisan 21st CCLC amendment that would ensure quality afterschool and summer learning programs continue to be provided to more than 1.6 million students.

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MAR
23

POLICY
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House and Senate budget resolutions propose significant spending cuts

By Erik Peterson

Last week, the House and Senate Budget Committees unveiled their ideas for FY 2016 federal spending.  Both chambers plan to pass budget resolutions to serve as blueprints for the upcoming Appropriations process.

House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) released his FY 2016 budget resolution last Tuesday morning.  The plan would balance the federal government’s budget in eight years by cutting domestic spending.  It cuts $5.5 trillion from the budget over ten years.  For nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending—which includes education, juvenile justice, and Health and Human Services funds that support afterschool programs—the budget maintains the FY 2016 sequester.  Locking in sequester cuts means spending increases will be unlikely for such programs in the coming year.  Starting in FY 2017, the budget cuts NDD spending each year below the sequester caps.

Specific program spending levels are not detailed in the budget proposal. With regard to K-12 education, the budget documents state the following:

“Our budget places a strong emphasis on returning the power to make education policy decisions to state and local governments, to families, and to students, rather than allowing choices to be made by bureaucrats in Washington. It eliminates unsuccessful and duplicative K-12 programs in order to increase efficiency and effectiveness. It promotes innovation and choices that provide for flexibility and innovative teaching methods.”

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MAR
12

POLICY
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New afterschool report released at Congressional staff briefing

By Erik Peterson

New data, an update on the out-of-school time Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards, compelling afterschool program profiles and a nutritious lunch were all highlighted in a briefing for Congressional staff on March 10 on Capitol Hill. The event served as the official release of the new America After 3PM report on afterschool programs’ efforts to keep students healthy and active, entitled "Kids on the Move: Afterschool Programs Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity."

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) kicked off the briefing with a passionate reminder about why afterschool programs are so critical to the success of young people, providing a brief history of how the federal government has helped build capacity for local afterschool programs and has spawned public private partnerships that have supported millions of young people over the past 20 years.

Moderated by Afterschool Alliance Board Treasurer Barry Ford, the panel provided an in-depth look at the wellness activities occurring in afterschool programs.

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learn more about: Congress Events and Briefings Health and Wellness Nutrition
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MAR
4

POLICY
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Bipartisan Summer Meals Act introduced in Senate to help close hunger gap

By Erik Peterson

Child nutrition program reauthorization efforts have taken a strong step forward with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introducing the bipartisan  Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S. 613). The legislation would significantly improve the reach of the Summer Nutrition Programs so more children can access healthy meals in supportive summer learning and afterschool programs. The bill would also simplify the administration of the program for sponsors.

The bill proposes the following improvements:

  • Improve the area eligibility test to allow community-based organizations to participate if 40 percent of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Currently, a summer meal site must meet a 50 percent threshold which keeps many communities from participating. This change would make summer meals eligibility consistent with 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative guidelines. Maps have been developed for each state to show how many more areas would be served under this proposed change.
  • Allow local government agencies and private nonprofit organizations to feed children year-round—afterschool and in the summer—through a single Summer Food Service Program process. This would remove duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules that discourage participation.
  • Provide funding for transportation grants to fund innovative approaches and mobile meal trucks. Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to participation, especially in rural areas.
  • Allow all sites to serve a third meal. Many summer meal sites provide child care to working parents and run all day and for extended hours, but are only able to serve a maximum of two meals with federal funds.

The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program over the summer period, provide free meals at participating summer sites at schools, parks, other public agencies, and nonprofits for children under 18. They provide children the nutritious meals they need to keep hunger at bay and remain healthy throughout the summer. They also support summer learning programs and help draw children into educational, enrichment, and recreational activities that keep them learning, engaged, active, and safe during school vacation.

A companion bill is expected to be re-introduced shortly in the House. The Afterschool Alliance has joined dozens of other groups in support of the legislation. 

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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning
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