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MAY
4
2017

RESEARCH
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5 ways afterschool prepares kids to succeed in the workplace

By Charlotte Steinecke

Cultivating tomorrow’s workforce remains a central part of the discussion about America’s economic future. As today’s children begin to develop the skills they will need in the workplace, experts in the education and afterschool fields are turning their attention to the ways that afterschool can contribute to that development.

In the summer of 2016, the Riley Institute at Furman University surveyed afterschool state network leads using a comprehensive skills list from the National Network of Business and Industry Associations and additional skills from other nationally-regarded organizations. Survey responses illustrate the extent to which workforce readiness skills are developed in afterschool programming and the strategies programs use to grow those skills. Here are some main highlights from the study:

  • The top five workforce readiness skills developed by afterschool are teamwork, communication, problem solving, self-confidence, and critical thinking
  • 87 percent of survey respondents report that afterschool programs help develop self-confidence “a lot” – 89 percent report similar levels of improvement for teamwork skills, and 81 percent report gains in communication skills
  • STEM/robotics programs are top performers for fostering self-confidence, problem solving, and teamwork development
  • Afterschool programs create environments where students can engage in reflection, discussion, and argumentative essays to build their critical thinking skills
  • In-school attendance, behavior, and academic performance are seen to improve for students in afterschool programs

Check out the full results of the study here. To learn more about the skills lists utilized for this survey, head over to the Business Roundtable skills list, the Indiana skills list, and the profile of a South Carolina graduate.

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learn more about: Economy Youth Development
APR
28
2017

RESEARCH
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What you need to know about the GAO's afterschool report

By Jen Rinehart

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on 21st Century Community Learning Centers on April 26 highlighting the benefits of afterschool participation and calling on the U.S. Department of Education to update their performance measures and data collection. The report confirms that participation in afterschool programs improves student behavior and school attendance and that the broad range of benefits from afterschool is more evident among students who attend their afterschool program for more than 60 days than among those who do not. The report also highlights the essential role that Community Learning Center grants play in helping afterschool programs leverage much-needed support from a range of community partners.

Afterschool community is committed to quality

Many afterschool providers have demonstrated their dedication to continuously improving their programs by adopting quality standards and utilizing continuous improvement tools. An array of program evaluations clearly demonstrate that quality programs are making a difference for children and youth. In fact, had the GAO selected a larger body of research on which to base its conclusions, including a wider array of state Community Learning Centers evaluations and other large studies of afterschool, its conclusions about program effectiveness would have been even stronger.

Widespread agreement that 21st CCLC performance measures need an update

In the years leading up to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), we spent a great deal of time convening the afterschool field to gather input about the vision of 21st CCLC in ESEA reauthorization. In that process, it became clear that there is broad consensus from the field around the need for updated 21st CCLC performance measures and data collection. That consensus is echoed in the GAO report, which recommends broadening the measures to include classroom behavior, school day attendance, and engagement. Improved alignment between Community Learning Centers program objectives and performance measures will help afterschool programs more effectively demonstrate their role in supporting student success, which is essential for ongoing public support.

Technical assistance should expand

The GAO report also calls for the department to update and expand the technical assistance offered to grantees. That’s another change that the afterschool community pushed hard for—and won—in the reauthorization of ESEA. By implementing the changes called for in the reauthorization of 21st CCLC, the department can bring improvements to professional development, data collection, and program evaluation as early as the school year that begins this fall.

Continued federal investment is vital

More than anything, this new report underscores the need to continue the federal investment in quality afterschool programs, which keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working families. The Trump administration should abandon its indefensible proposal to defund Community Learning Centers—which would take afterschool and summer learning programs away from 1.6 million kids, devastating low-income families and communities—and instead implement the GAO’s recommendations.

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learn more about: Department of Education Evaluations
MAR
27
2017

RESEARCH
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New poll out: Americans strongly support funding for afterschool

By Nikki Yamashiro

A new national Quinnipiac University poll released late last week finds that American voters overwhelmingly oppose the proposed federal budget cuts to afterschool and summer learning programs. With 83 percent of voters saying that cutting funding for afterschool and summer programs is a bad idea, Tim Mallory, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll includes afterschool as one of the programs where, “it’s a stern ‘hands off’ from voters,” when it comes to cutting funding.

Funding for afterschool and summer learning programs has bipartisan support, with majorities from all parties—97 percent of Democrats, 87 percent of Independents, and 63 percent of Republicans—saying that cutting funding is a bad idea. It also has widespread support across communities, with 78 percent of voters in rural communities and 87 percent of voters in cities agreeing that it is a bad idea.

This poll reinforces previous findings on the broad support for public funding of afterschool and summer learning programs. Our 2014 America After 3PM national household survey found that 84 percent of parents were in support of public funding for afterschool programs, including 91 percent of Democrat, 86 percent of Independent, and 80 percent of Republican parents.

If you also believe that federal funding for afterschool and summer learning programs is critical and you want to show your support, you can add your voice to the chorus of voices standing up and speaking out for afterschool. 

MAR
9
2017

RESEARCH
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Webinar recap: Let's hear it for the girls

By Leah Silverberg

A new research paper from the Girl Scout Research Institute suggests that girls are in a worse state than they were before the Great Recession. Released in February, the report outlined the trends in girls’ economic, physical, and emotional health, as well as participation in extracurricular activities and educational opportunities.

To further explore the state of girls, the Afterschool Alliance teamed up with Girl Scouts and Girls on the Run International for a webinar on February 23, digging into these emerging trends and what afterschool programs are doing to help girls. Moderated by Afterschool Alliance Director of Research Nikki Yamashiro, webinar attendees heard from Kamla Modi, Ph.D., senior researcher at the Girl Scout Research Institute; Suzanne Harper, STEM strategy lead at Girl Scouts of the USA; Audrey Kwik, director of STEM and Programs at Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas; and Heather Pressley, PhD, vice president of Programming at Girls on the Run International about the report and what programs are doing to support girls.

During the webinar, Kamla Modi highlighted the paper’s key findings, bringing attention to the disparities between the 41 percent of girls today that live in low-income families and their higher family income level peers. For example, girls in lower-income families are less likely to volunteer, participate in student council, and take part in sports than their higher-income peers. Kamla’s presentation highlighted the need to invest in afterschool and summer learning programs to ensure that all girls have the supports necessary to succeed.

Up next were speakers from girl-serving organizations committed to making sure that girls have opportunity to develop their full potential. These speakers shared hands-on programming tips and strategies to best support girls during the out-of-school hours.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings
FEB
17
2017

RESEARCH
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What is "The State of Girls" in 2017?

By Leah Silverberg

The Girl Scout Research Institute released "The State of Girls 2017" at a February briefing on Capitol Hill.

Since the Great Recession, the United States has experienced many demographic, social, economic, and technological changes. A new report from the Girl Scout Research Institute, "The State of Girls 2017: Emerging Truths and Troubling Trends," tracks resulting trends in girls’ economic, physical, and emotional health, as well as participation in extracurricular activities and education compared to results from ten years ago.

To launch the report, Girl Scouts of the USA partnered with Honorary Congressional Host Committee members Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), to host a briefing on Capitol Hill with speakers including Alice Hockenbury, Girl Scouts Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy; Kamla Modi, Ph.D., Senior Researcher for the Girl Scout Research Institute; Makaa Ngwa-Suh, Program Services Manager for Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital; Rachel Tabakman, Girl Scouts Public Policy Manager; and Summer Berry, Girl Scout Ambassador from Martinsburg, West Virginia.

At the briefing, speakers discussed the results of the report, how the information provided can be used to influence policy, what Girl Scouts are doing with their STEM Education programming, and how their programming is helping girls. The "State of Girls" report series is the first of its kind to focus on the health and well-being of girls, and while some of the findings suggest positive trends for girls now, other results show that more needs to be done to help girls reach their full potential. 

Troubling trends

According to the report, more girls today are living in poverty and low-income households than in 2007, and more than half of black/African American (58 percent), Hispanic/Latina (61 percent), and American Indian (61 percent) girls are considered low-income. This is especially important considering that girls who live in poverty and low-income households face many challenges that affect their physical and emotional health, as well as their opportunities for academic achievement.

Furthermore, all girls are more at risk for obesity (17 percent) and suicidal ideation (23 percent of high school girls) than they were a decade ago (16 percent and 19 percent, respectively).

Positive shifts

Overall, girls are engaging in less risky behaviors than in 2007, with fewer girls having tried cigarettes and alcohol. Additionally, reading and math proficiency has improved. Finally, the high school dropout rate has decreased in recent years, with the largest decrease for Hispanic/Latina girls, for whom the dropout rate dropped from 18 percent to 9 percent.

Useful resources

"The State of Girls 2017" focuses on national data, but for a closer look at the state of girls in your community, the Girl Scouts Research Institute has also published The United States of Girls, an interactive map illustrating your state's performance on the Index of Girls’ Well-Being as well as what Girl Scouts are doing within your state to advocate for girls.  The results from this report are not prescriptive, and do not dictate what the future may hold for girls in the United States.  Programs that operate in out-of-school time, like Girl Scouts and afterschool programs, currently and will continue to play an important role in supporting girls nationally.

Interested in learning more about The State of Girls? Read the full report, and for more discussion, join the Afterschool Alliance, lead researchers from the Girl Scout Research Institute, and speakers from Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and Girls on the Run International for a webinar on February 23 at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the results and talk about what is being done to help girls thrive. 

FEB
10
2017

RESEARCH
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Learn to engage your team with data with a new webinar series from Public Profit

By Leah Silverberg

Interested in making your team more comfortable with data analysis? Want to learn more about professional learning communities? Feel like you can expand your program model? You should tune in to Public Profit’s new webinar series!

Public Profit is a research organization with expertise in evaluation and data that specifically works with nonprofits serving children, youth, and families. In the next few months, they will be offering free 30-minute webinars looking at ways to improve your organization’s model, and how to better understand and utilize your nonprofit’s data. 

1. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in Out-of-School Time (OST), February 28, 2017 at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

Want to learn more about Professional Learning Community design, and how to make it work in your out-of-school time program? Register for PLCs in OST!

2. Quality in OST, March 14, 2017 at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

Explore new ways of looking at your organization’s data and using it to create better quality OST programs with this Public Profit webinar. Enroll today!

3. Dabbling in the Data, April 25, 2017 at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

Dabbling in the Data is the first step toward making your team more comfortable using your organization's data. Through field-tested team activities, Dabbling in the Data provides a back to the basics approach to delving into data analysis.  To learn new ways of refreshing your team’s statistics knowledge, sign up for the Dabbling in the Data webinar.

Can’t make the webinar? Check out Public Profit’s toolbox for Dabbling in the Data!

4. Training and Replication, May 24, 2017 at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

Interested in expanding your program model, but do not have the guidance or training developed to do so? Join Public Profit for their Training and Replication webinar to learn tips for starting this process!

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learn more about: Events and Briefings
JAN
5
2017

RESEARCH
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When talking about social and emotional learning, what language works best?

By Dan Gilbert

We all know that high quality afterschool and summer learning programs provide kids with the skills that they need to succeed in school and life. While the concept sounds simple, finding the best way to describe these skills and their development is anything but. Some people use phrases such as "social and emotional learning (SEL)" or "character development." Others refer to "21st century," "noncognitive" or "non-academic skills." With such a wide array of terms available, it can be hard to know how to best describe the set of skills youth develop in programs.

New research commissioned by the Wallace Foundation provides some helpful insights. For the study, EDGE Research performed desktop research, interviewed more than 45 leaders in the field, held focus groups with parents, and surveyed more than 1,600 professionals in the field. Their findings provide a valuable lens on how educators, afterschool and summer program leaders, policy makers, and parents think about these skills and what terms and messaging frames are most useful in communicating their value.

Key findings

Unfortunately, there is no “silver bullet” term for describing these skills.

Two terms—"social and emotional learning" and "social-emotional and academic learning"—are suggested as the likely best options because they were relatively familiar and clear to the audiences with which they were tested, and were generally viewed in a positive light.

The most compelling messaging strategy is to frame the skills in terms of how they benefit children by naming specific outcomes. For example, you could describe how developing social and emotional skills helps children succeed in school and in life by providing them with the ability to manage their emotions, build positive relationships, and navigate social environments, which allows them to fulfill their potential.

Interested in learning more about the study and the other terms and messaging frames that were tested? Read the full analysis and download the webinar recording on the Wallace Foundation website.

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learn more about: Marketing Youth Development
DEC
21
2016

RESEARCH
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New report underscores the high cost of child care

By Nikki Yamashiro

Affordable and accessible high-quality child care is a critical issue for working families across the U.S. Although the benefits of quality child care for both children and their parents are numerous, many families struggle to afford and find child care that meets their needs. The 10th edition of Child Care Aware of America’s report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, reveals the ongoing challenges families have faced regarding child care over the past decade. The report also discusses the impact the high cost of child care has on the child care workforce, what some states are doing to better support the families in their community, and steps we can take as a country to make sure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care.

Below are a few highlights from the report:

Child care costs are high.

  • Examining the cost of child care in the U.S., the report found that the cost of center-based infant care was unaffordable for parents in all but one state. Although the cost of child care should not be more than 7 percent of a families’ median income (based on standards from the Department of Health and Human Services), in some states it was more than two times as high, accounting for 14 percent of a families’ median income. 
  • In 19 states, the annual average cost of center-based care for a four-year-old is higher than the cost of college tuition.
  • Another startling finding from the report is that in all 50 states, a child care worker who has two children would spend more than half of their income on child care if they wanted to enroll their children in center-based care.  In 14 states, this cost would be more than 100 percent of a child care worker’s income.

Certain communities are more heavily impacted.

  • The report found that child care deserts, or areas where families have either limited or no access to quality child care, are especially prevalent in, “low-income communities, rural communities, among families of color, and among families with irregular or nontraditional work schedules.”
  • Among low-income families, paying for child care is especially challenging, where the average cost of center-based care for an infant is between 17 and 43 percent of a families’ income.

Where do we go from here?

  • The report outlines a number of recommendations to help ease the cost burden of child care for families, including those in the child care workforce, such as increasing federal investments in child care funding through the Child Care and Development Block Grant, creating public-private partnerships that will invest in child care at the local level, and prioritizing professional development and a living wage for child care workers.

To learn more, visit Child Care Aware of America’s website where you can download a copy of the full report, as well as find out what the cost of child care looks like in your state through Child Care Aware of America’s new interactive map.

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learn more about: Working Families