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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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Afterschool Policy Snacks
JAN
29

POLICY
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Bipartisan Afterschool for America's Children Act introduced in the Senate

By Erik Peterson

With the Elementary and Secondary Education Action (ESEA) reauthorization process underway in the Senate HELP Committee, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Shelly Moore-Capito (R-WV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced their bipartisan Afterschool for America’s Children Act in the Senate today.  The Afterschool for America’s Children Act legislation reauthorizes the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative and builds on past afterschool and summer learning program success.  The bill was introduced this week in the wake of a proposal to eliminate 21st CCLC through ESEA.

 The bill:

  • Strengthens school-community partnerships to include sharing of data and resources, the ability to better leverage relationships within the community and provide an intentional alignment with the school day.
  • Promotes professional development and training of afterschool program staff.
  • Encourages innovative new ways to engage students in learning that looks different from a traditional school day, with an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning; science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and physical activity and nutrition education.  Supports approaches that focus on individualized learning that provide a variety of ways for students to master core skills and knowledge.
  • Provides accountability measures that are connected to college- and career-readiness goals and show student progress over time towards meeting indicators of student success including school attendance, grades and on-time grade level advancement.
  • Ensures that funding supports programs that utilize evidence-based, successful practices.
  • Increases quality and accountability through parent engagement, better alignment with state learning objectives and coordination between federal, state and local agencies. 
  • Does not prioritize any one model of expanded learning opportunities over another. 
  • Maintains formula grants to states that then distribute funds to local school-community partnerships through a competitive grant process.

The bill was introduced in the 113th Congress as S. 326, signifying the hours from 3PM to 6PM when young people need access to quality afterschool programs that keep them safe and inspire learning.  Among the groups registering support for the bill in the 113th Congress were the Afterschool Alliance, After-School All-Stars, American Camp Association, American Heart Association, A World Fit For Kids, Champions, Harlem RBI, National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Collaboration for Youth, Save the Children and the United States Tennis Association. 

In addition to these organizations, it’s important that Congress see a strong showing of support from afterschool advocates across the country.  Your senators want to hear from you!  Take action now by urging your senators to sign on as co-sponsors to support the next generation of afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that are re-engaging children in their education and future.  Share personal examples or experiences that illustrate the importance of these out-of-school programs for enhancing learning, keeping kids safe and helping working families.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Federal Funding Federal Policy
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JAN
22

POLICY
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Senate HELP Committee holds hearing on testing and accountability

By Sophie Papavizas

On Wednesday, January 21, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) under Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) held a hearing on Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability.  The hearing focused on reviewing the testing and accountability measures for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

This was the first hearing for the HELP Committee in the 114th Congress and Chairman Alexander used the opportunity to outline his agenda for the new Congress, reiterating his commitment to fixing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and promising to have a bill ready for the floor by the end of February.  A working draft for the bill was posted on the Committee website last week and presents two options for testing.  The first option gives flexibility to the states to decide what to do, while the second option maintains current law testing requirements.

Below is a list of the witnesses present at the hearing.  Their written testimony can be found here.

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learn more about: Congress ESEA Federal Policy
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JAN
22

POLICY
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New York City moving toward afterschool for all

By Rachel Clark

This month, Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong announced the opening of 49 new School’s Out New York City (SONYC) programs, adding 2,500 afterschool seats for middle schoolers.  During his term, the Mayor aims to provide an afterschool program to any middle schooler who wants one.

271 SONYC programs were launched in September, marking the largest expansion of afterschool for middle schoolers in city history, and likely in the nation.  According to Mayor de Blasio, New York City’s historic investment in middle school afterschool has resulted in enrollment reaching 121 percent for the more than 75,000 city-funded afterschool seats currently available to middle school students.  Before the expansion, New York City was already far above the national average for afterschool participation, with 28 percent of children participating compared to 18 percent nationally.

“With thousands of new seats added for our city’s youth at diverse non-public schools and community centers citywide, more of our parents and families can rest assured their children have positive alternatives during a key period of their lives,” said Mayor de Blasio.  “Every middle schooler in New York City deserves access to a safe and engaging environment after the school bell rings.”

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JAN
21

POLICY
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President Obama's State of the Union: An afterschool perspective

By Erik Peterson

Last night, President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address to a Congress that for the first time in his presidency is controlled by Republicans in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Key highlights of the speech included tax proposals that would boost middle-class families and a new approach to immigration and a push for free education at community colleges.  Several elements of the speech are of interest to friends of afterschool, including new tax incentives for child care and a focus on community colleges.

The president proposed streamlining child care tax incentives to give middle-class families with young children a tax cut of up to $3,000 per child.  The president’s proposal would streamline and dramatically expand child care tax benefits, potentially helping 5.1 million families cover child care costs for 6.7 million children.  The proposal follows up on recent legislation and some new investments to improve child care quality, access, and affordability for working families.  The current average child care tax benefit of $550 falls short of the cost of child care, including the cost of quality school-age afterschool and summer care.  According to supplemental material from the Department of Health and Human Services, the president’s proposal would:

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learn more about: Federal Policy Obama
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JAN
16

POLICY
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21st CCLC initiative eliminated in Sen. Alexander's ESEA reauthorization discussion draft bill

By Erik Peterson

As we previewed earlier this week, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization process officially kicked off late on Tuesday night with the release of Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) staff discussion draft reauthorization bill.  The proposed “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015” would replace the 2001 No Child Left Behind law and seeks to increases flexibility for states under a reduced federal footprint.  The proposed bill offers two approaches to annual testing requirements, makes teacher evaluation through test scores optional and eliminates a range of existing programs including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative that currently provides afterschool and summer learning programs to more than 1.6 million students.

Separately on Wednesday, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan responded to the Chairman’s draft by expressing serious concern with a number of provisions.  The tentative process moving forward includes a number of discussion sessions giving Senate HELP Committee members’ staff an opportunity to fully understand the 400-page bill, followed by negotiations to determine the legislation that will be marked up in the Senate HELP Committee likely during the middle of next month.  An ESEA bill could be debated on the Senate floor as early as this spring or summer.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JAN
14

POLICY
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USDA proposes new meal pattern requirements for the Child and Adult Care Food Program

By Sophie Papavizas

On January 9, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released proposed new rules (pdf) governing the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).  Every day, more than 3 million children and adults receive meals through CACFP in Head Start programs, child and adult day cares, emergency shelters, and afterschool programs.  The new meal pattern requirements align with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as required by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. These guidelines will help to ensure every meal received through the CACFP program is healthy and nutritious, including those meals served by afterschool programs through the CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals program.

Amongst the new guidelines is an allowance for tofu as a meat alternate and a requirement that flavored milk be fat-free.  The guidelines do differentiate between food items and serving sizes provided to infants, toddlers and pre-school age children in child care settings, versus meals and snacks served to school-age children in afterschool program settings. With these new guidelines the USDA has taken a step forward in providing nutrient rich meals to children.  Under the proposed guidelines, there will be no increase in funding accompanying the changes.

The USDA is now accepting comments on the proposed rules, details on what kind of feedback the USDA is looking for and how to submit can be found here (pdf).  There is a 90-day comment period.  All interested afterschool providers are encouraged to submit comments to the USDA.

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) will be hosting a webinar on January 27 at 1:30 p.m. ET, titled “New Healthier CACFP Meal Standards: What you need to know,” featuring USDA and FRAC experts.  Please refer to the FRAC website for more information and register for the webinar.

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learn more about: Federal Policy Health and Wellness Nutrition
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JAN
13

POLICY
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New year, new Congress, new momentum

By Erik Peterson

2015 has only just begun but Congress is already into its second week and legislative priorities are emerging for the year ahead.  The 114th Congress convened last week with Republicans controlling both the House (246 Republicans to 188 Democrats, 1 vacancy) and the Senate (54 Republicans to 44 Democrats, with 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats) as a result of the 2014 midterm elections.  What does the 114th Congress have in store that could impact afterschool and summer learning programs?  Plenty.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Congress ESEA Events and Briefings Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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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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