In late October former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came to Washington, D.C., to shine a light on the importance of federal funding for afterschool programs. Through meetings hosted by leadership in both the House of Representatives and the Senate with both Republicans and Democrats, as well as a meeting with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a stop at the new D.C. After-School All-Stars program, Gov. Schwarzenegger made clear the importance of afterschool programs in keeping young people safe and supported, inspiring learning for children and youth, and helping working families.
The focus of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s meetings on Capitol Hill was to express strong support for continued federal funding for afterschool programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative. The governor urged Members of Congress to find a separate funding stream for lengthening the school day or school year so that it doesn't compete with funding for afterschool programs. He also called for supporting the 21st CCLC program so that afterschool programs become an expectation, not an afterthought.
Last night Congress passed a bill based on an agreement struck by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that ended the the 16-day federal government shutdown and raised the debt ceiling, avoiding an international economic crisis.
After 16 days of the vast majority of the Federal workforce at home (90 percent of the Department of Education was furloughed), the bill reopens the government by providing funding through Jan. 15, 2014, at last year’s levels. For key federal funding that supports afterschool and summer learning programs, like the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative and Child Care Development Fund (CCDF), the bill means funding at last year’s levels despite increasing program costs and growing demand for quality afterschool programs. The agreement also leaves in place the sequester, which is expected to result in an additional 7.2 percent cut to federal non-defense discretionary programs on Jan. 15. Education advocates are hopeful that the conference committee established by the agreement will address the pending sequester cut. A final budget for FY2014 will have to be negotiated, voted on and signed by the president before the funding runs out on Jan. 15.
Ed. Note: This blog was originally posted as part of the ACT4JJ Campaign's JJDPA Matters Blog Project, a 16-week series that launched Sept. 10, 2013. You can find the full series at the JJDPA Matters Action Center.
For almost 40 years, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) has supported the work of afterschool programs to protect young people and promote safe communities. While just one part of the whole JJDPA picture, funding for evidence-based afterschool programs has empowered communities to implement innovative programs that provide opportunities to engage young people in their own futures. This week, JJDPA will be on our minds as more than one million Americans and thousands of communities nationwide celebrate Lights On Afterschool, an annual event that helps to raise awareness about the need for afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.
The JJDPA was one of the first federal legislative efforts to clearly link quality afterschool programming to the prevention of youth crime and violence. Within Title V of the law, Incentive Grants for Local Delinquency Prevention Programs fund a range of innovative and effective initiatives that bring together communities to provide mentoring and engaging activities for young people. A cost effective alternative to detention and incarceration, prevention and early intervention efforts like afterschool programs during the peak hours of youth crime (3-7:00 p.m.) keep young people safe while engaging in learning opportunities ranging from dance, gardening and spoken word, to robotics and building solar powered cars. Increasingly these programs are a setting for hands-on, social-emotional learning that help young people develop the skills they need to succeed in school and in life.
STEM, child care & federal policy filled the agenda when state afterschool networks came to Washington
Late last month, leaders from more than 40 state afterschool networks, including representatives from state education agencies, gathered for several days in Washington, D.C., for a national convening: “Expanded Learning Opportunities: STEM Programs and Systems.”
The convening, co-hosted by the Department of Education, the C.S. Mott Foundation and the Noyce Foundation, focused on creating positive STEM outcomes for more students through collaboration and cooperation among national, state and local partners. Sessions allowed network leaders and education officials to work together to consider how to leverage investments and actions to expand the availability of quality informal science in afterschool and impact more students across the country.
Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton opened the conference with a well-received talk on the partnerships necessary to generate the best possible STEM outcomes in young people. Stating that learning occurring after school is just as essential as learning taking place during the school day, the deputy secretary demonstrated his understanding of the depth and power of informal STEM education occurring in quality afterschool programs.
With Congress unable to work through its normal appropriations process, the federal 2013 fiscal year ended at midnight last night without a budget to begin the next year, resulting in a shutdown of the federal government. Congress had been working on a continuing resolution (CR) that would have funded all federal programs at almost current levels through Nov. 15 or Dec. 15, at which time Congress would have to pass another funding bill. The House and Senate couln't agree on the terms of the CR over the past few weeks of negotiations, ultimately leading to the shutdown.
Until a short-term CR is passed, the government remains shut down; only personnel and programs deemed ‘essential’ are able to continue to function. That being said, because many of the federal programs that fund afterschool programs are forward funded or reimbursed, the impact of the government shutdown will likely not be felt unless the shutdown extends beyond the week.
At the Department of Education, more than 90 percent of employees are to be furloughed during the first week of a shutdown. However, the department has stated that they will disperse roughly $22 billion in key K-12 formula funding through state Title I, special education, and career and technical education grants that were due to go out during the first week of October. At this time, funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative is not expected to be affected.
By Sarah Keller
On Wednesday the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2013 (S. 1086) passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee by unanimous voice vote. The bipartisan bill—sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN)—was last reauthorized in 1996.
CCDBG is the main federal source of funding for families needing child care and also funds child care quality initiatives. Currently, 1.6 million children a month—from birth to age 13—receive funding totaling $5 billion a year. About 600,000 school-age children are provided with care through CCDBG. All of the senators agreed about the importance of providing high-quality, affordable, safe child care. This bill also gives working parents the flexibility to determine the best child care options for their family. To ensure that child care centers are safe, the bill enacted several provisions that reflect the changes that have occurred in the 17 years since the last reauthorization. These changes include:
- Comprehensive background checks for child care workers
- At least yearly inspections of child care programs sites to ensure the site is safe and providing developmentally appropriate activities for the children
- Promotion of continuity of care
- Help for homeless families looking for child care
- Raising the health requirement of child care centers
- Orientation and professional development training for child care program workers
While this November is not a Congressional election, there are a number of state and local races that are garnering national attention—and afterschool programs have been a part of several of those election campaigns. In particular, the governor’s race in New Jersey and the mayor’s race in New York City have featured candidates proposing substantial expansions of afterschool programs.
Democratic New Jersey Gubernatorial Candidate Barbara Buono has incorporated afterschool as part of her education platform. In general she has pushed for additional resources to ensure that all children in New Jersey have the supports and opportunities they need. Her education platform specifically includes a vision for supporting afterschool programs:
Restore funding for before and afterschool care programs. Before and afterschool programs provide students with meaningful recreation and enrichment opportunities and ensure the process of learning continues even outside the classroom. Restoring funding to these programs will be critical to helping our students thrive.
It has been six months since the sequester went into effect, however the forward funding mechanism used by many federal education programs has delayed a visible impact at the local level. That is changing as the 2013-2014 school year gets under way and the effects of the sequester on education are made more clear, including scaled back federal investments in afterschool programs.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) recent opinion piece on the sequester that appeared in the Metro West Daily News in Massachusetts acknowledged the role of afterschool programs in helping working families:
“Other cuts are just as mindless. More and more parents are working, but afterschool and other programs’ funding is getting cut for more than a million of our kids. Ask a million parents what it is like to try to hold down a job when the afterschool program closes its doors.”
Last month's report by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), Surviving Sequester, Round One: Schools Detail Impact of Sequester Cuts included the results of a poll of superintendents asking how the sequester cuts will impact their district. Twenty-four percent of superintendents reported that they would reduce afterschool and Saturday enrichment programs, while 22 percent said they would eliminate summer school programs. Just under 20 percent also reported they would reduce extra-curricular activities and shift funding of extracurricular activities to families or community organizations.