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Afterschool Policy Snacks
NOV
3
2016

POLICY
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A new grant program in ESSA is an opportunity for afterschool STEM and more

By Anita Krishnamurthi

President Obama signs the Every Student Succeeds Act into law.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new education law of the land, established a number of new, flexible funding streams that states and districts can employ to support afterschool programs. One of these is the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program (SSAE), in the law's Title IV Part A. 

Late last month, the US Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance on the SSAE grant program to help states, districts and schools provide students with a more well-rounded education. ESSA authorized $1.65 billion annually for this program (though Congress is debating the final funding level), which will provide funding to every state and district to support well-rounded learning opportunities with a strong emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, as well as learning technologies and programs that keep students safe and healthy. The SSAE grants program is intended to be distributed by formula to districts, according to the following stipulations:

  • Ninety-five percent of the funds will flow to school districts, to be spent largely at their discretion, with the remaining 5 percent reserved for state-level activities. 
  • Every district will receive at least $10,000 through the program, and those receiving more than $30,000 in federal funds under the program (all but the smallest school districts will likely cross this threshold) must devote 20 percent to “well-rounded” learning activities, which include a large variety of STEM activities.

There are a nubmer of activities specifically authorized under ESSA and detailed in the new Department of Education guidance for the SSAE grants program that are helpful for afterschool STEM.

Opportunities for afterschool STEM in the SSAE grant program

  • “Facilitating collaboration among school, afterschool program, and informal program personnel to improve the integration of programming and instruction in the identified [STEM] subjects” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(C)(v)]
  • “Providing hands-on learning and exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and supporting the use of field-based or service learning to enhance the students’ understanding of the STEM subjects” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(C)(iii)]
  • “Supporting the participation of low-income students in nonprofit competitions related to STEM subjects (such as robotics, science research, invention, mathematics, computer science, and technology competitions)” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(C)(ii)]
  • “Activities and programs to support student access to, and success in, a variety of well-rounded education experiences” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(J)]

The guidance issued last month also provides specific program examples that will help school districts and local communities better navigate these opportunities included in the law.

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learn more about: Education Reform ESEA Federal Policy
OCT
19
2016

POLICY
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Youth organizations send letter to Congress in support of 21st CCLC

By Erik Peterson

Late last month, Congress avoided a government shutdown by passing a short-term FY2017 continuing resolution (CR). The temporary stopgap funding measure set spending levels at the FY 2016 spending levels through December 9, 2016.

Congress is currently on recess prior to Election Day on November 8, 2016, but will be faced with passing a more permanent spending bill when they return the week of November 14th. House and Senate appropriations staff are now meeting to review and negotiate differences in the spending bills passed this summer by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. 

As more than one million parents, students and supporters prepare to celebrate Lights On Afterschool at more than 8,000 events nationwide tomorrow, October 20; major education, youth development and child advocacy organizations sent a letter to Congressional appropriators calling on them to fund 21st CCLC at $1.16 billion, the level included in the House Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) education spending bill

OCT
4
2016

POLICY
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The four categories of changes made to the Child Care and Development Fund

By Erik Peterson

Photo by mokra.

The 2016 Child Care and Development Fund Final Rule was finalized late last month by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), updating regulations to incorporate and clarify changes made through the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. 

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is the primary federal funding source devoted to improving the quality of care for all children and to helping low-income families who work or participate in education pay for child care. The federal program is also among the five largest funding streams that support local providers in offering quality afterschool programming for school-age children. CCDF provides child care financial assistance for 1.4 million children each month throughout the United States, U.S. Territories and Tribal Nations. CCDF investments in improving the quality of care also benefit millions more of the nation’s children who do not receive a child care subsidy, but who participate in child care programs that benefit from these quality investments, such as program staff and teacher training. 

On November 19, 2014, President Obama signed into law bipartisan legislation that comprehensively updated the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act for the first time in nearly twenty years. The law focused on strengthening child care to better support the success of both parents and children, while also providing a new emphasis on the importance of providing high-quality early education and care for children under the age of five. 

The final rule updates CCDF regulations for the first time since 1998 to make them consistent with the new law. The rule applies to states, territories and tribes administering CCDF and reflects more than 150 comments received on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published in December 2015. The Afterschool Alliance provided comments on the proposed rule, several of which were incorporated into the final rule. 

The final rule recognizes the important role of school-age afterschool programs, stating:

"Research also confirms that consistent time spent in afterschool activities during the elementary school years is linked to narrowing the gap in math achievement, greater gains in academic and behavioral outcomes, and reduced school absences. (Auger, Pierce, and Vandell, Participation in Out-of-School Settings and Student Academic and Behavioral Outcomes, presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, 2013). An analysis of over 70 after-school program evaluations found that evidence-based programs designed to promote personal and social skills were successful in improving children's behavior and school performance. (Durlak, Weissberg, and Pachan, The Impact of Afterschool Programs that Seek to Promote Personal and Social Skills in Children and Adolescents, American Journal of Community Psychology, 2010). After-school programs also promote youth safety and family stability by providing supervised settings during hours when children are not in school. Parents with school-aged children in unsupervised arrangements face greater stress that can impact the family's well-being and successful participation in the workforce. (Barnett and Gareis, Parental After-School Stress and Psychological Well-Being, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 2006)."

The Office of Child Care (OCC) at HHS summarized the major changes in the CCDBG Act and the CCDF final rule into categories. 

Here are the four categories of changes made:

      1)    Protecting the health and safety of children in child care;  

      2)    Helping parents make informed consumer choices and access information to support child development;  

      3)    Supporting equal access to stable, high quality child care for low-income children; and  

      4)    Enhancing the quality of child care and better support the workforce. 

SEP
30
2016

POLICY
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Continuing resolution passes, federal government funded through early December

By Erik Peterson

Two days before the 2016 federal fiscal year (FY) ended, Congress avoided a government shutdown by passing a short-term FY2017 continuing resolution (CR). The temporary stop gap funding measure sets spending levels at the FY 2016 spending levels through December 9, 2016. The CR was subsequently signed by the President.

The bill extends current funding with a 0.496 percent across-the-board cut to all programs including federal education programs. For the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, that means an estimated $5.8 million cut. However, because the program is forward funded, program grantees would not see the impact of that cut if 21st CCLC is funded at the current level in any final spending bill expected to pass during the lame duck session.

The measure also provides $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus, $500 million for flood relief, and funds the Department of Veterans Affairs for the full fiscal year. The CR passed in the Senate by a vote of 72 to 26 and in the House by a vote of 342 to 85. Lawmakers were able to reach a deal after weeks of negotiations. One of the biggest stumbling blocks was disagreement over whether and how to provide aid to Flint, Michigan to address the city’s lead-tainted water system. In the end, Congress agreed to authorize aid for Flint as part of separate legislation for water infrastructure projects expected to pass during the lame duck session after Election Day in November.

Congress is now out on recess through after Election Day. The White House and Congress have until December 9 to either negotiate another CR or enact full FY17 appropriations bills. From the perspective of afterschool providers and advocates, an omnibus spending bill that includes all individual spending bills is optimal over an additional CR, as it would reduce uncertainty for state agencies who hope to hold 21st CCLC grant competitions in early 2017. Add your voice to the appropriations process through our action center.

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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding
SEP
26
2016

POLICY
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Presidential candidates talk child care

By Erik Peterson

Images by Gage Skidmore and Lorie Shaull.

With less than 50 days left until the election for president, both candidates have now released proposals to address child care issues for America’s families. The proposals largely focus on child care for children from birth to age 8; however, there are some elements of the plans that would support parents with children in afterschool programs or who seek to access afterschool programs for their children.

Trump's child care plan

Earlier this month, Republican nominee Donald Trump released his child care proposal focusing primarily on tax credits and a mandatory minimum of six weeks of paid maternity leave for employers. The Trump plan proposes to change the tax code for working parents, allowing an income tax deduction for care of up to four children for households earning up to $500,000 and individuals earning up to $250,000. The plan offers a rebate of up to $1,200 per year for low-income families. The proposed six weeks of paid maternity leave would be financed through unemployment insurance reforms aimed at reducing fraud and abuse.

With regard to afterschool care, the Trump plan would create new Dependent Care Savings Accounts (DCSAs) for families to set aside extra money to foster their children's development and offset elder care for their parents or adult dependents. The new accounts would be universally available, and allow both tax-deductible contributions and tax-free appreciation year-to-year, unlike current law Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), which are available only if offered by an employer and do not allow balances to accumulate. The plan specifies that when established for children under 18 years old, funds from a DCSA can be applied to traditional child care, but also afterschool enrichment programs and school tuition. The proposal aims to assist lower-income parents by ensuring the government matches half of the first $1,000 deposited per year.

Clinton's child care plan

The Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, released her child care plan during the primaries last year. Clinton’s plan includes 12 weeks of paid family leave for both parents and would be paid for by tax increases on the wealthy. Her plan would also cap child care costs at 10 percent of a family’s income, and would rely on either tax cuts or block grants to help subsidize costs that exceed the cap. Additionally, the Democratic party platform included language on increased public investment in childcare, support for community schools, increased investment in afterschool, summer learning and mentoring programs, as well as funding for STEM (especially for computer science), including in the afterschool space.

For more information on the election and afterschool, visit our Campaign for Afterschool Toolkit.

SEP
23
2016

POLICY
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Update: House of Representatives passes juvenile justice bill

By Erik Peterson

Pictured at the committee meeting yesterday, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) introduced the the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act along with Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). Image via @edworkorce on Instagram.

On evening of September 22, the full House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act (H.R. 5963) by a final vote of 382 to 29. The bill now goes to the Senate, which has yet to pass its version of the juvenile justice reauthorization legislation. For more on the House bill and implications for afterschool programs, see the blog from Sept. 15 below. 

Juvenile justice bill introduced in House, passes Education Committee

On Friday, September 9, members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee introduced the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act (H.R. 5963). Sponsored by Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), the legislation reauthorizes and reforms the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) to help state and local leaders better serve young people and juvenile offenders. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce unanimously approved the legislation by voice vote yesterday.

Since 1974, the JJDPA has coordinated federal resources aimed at improving state juvenile justice systems with a focus on education and rehabilitation. While many of these state juvenile justice programs have been able to help children develop the life skills they need to hold themselves accountable and achieve success, not all programs have seen the same results. As the law expired in 2008, this bipartisan legislation includes reforms to provide states and local leaders flexibility to deliver services that meet the specific needs of delinquent youth in their communities; promote opportunities for juvenile offenders to acquire skills necessary to grow into productive members of society; help at-risk youth avoid the juvenile justice system by supporting prevention services; prioritize evidence-based strategies with proven track records and long-term solutions for addressing juvenile delinquency; and improve accountability and oversight at all levels of the juvenile justice system.

Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) praised the bipartisan bill in a statement, saying the “bipartisan bill includes positive reforms that will help state and community leaders keep at-risk youth out of the juvenile justice system and provide juvenile offenders the second chance they need to turn their lives around.”

The bill will strengthen prevention and rehabilitation support by:

  • Providing states and local leaders flexibility to deliver services that meet the specific needs of delinquent youth in their communities.
  • Promoting opportunities for juvenile offenders to acquire skills necessary to grow into productive members of society.
  • Helping at-risk youth avoid the juvenile justice system by supporting prevention services.  
  • Prioritizing evidence-based strategies with proven track records and long-term solutions for addressing juvenile delinquency.
  • Improving accountability and oversight at all levels of the juvenile justice system.

With regard to support for afterschool and mentoring programs, the bill restructures an existing local delinquency-prevention grant program to better assess and respond to unmet community needs. Under the legislation, eligible states will award five-year grants to help local leaders meet those specific needs with a focus on community engagement and coordination among existing efforts and programs. Mentoring and afterschool are included as allowable uses for the prevention funding as evidence-based programs to support young people.

The Senate’s bipartisan version of the juvenile justice legislation, S. 1169, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2015, though attempts to pass the bill on the Senate floor have not yet been successful despite broad bipartisan support. 

SEP
14
2016

POLICY
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House passes an updated career and technical education bill

By Jillian Luchner

photo by Rabi Samuel

The bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, the proposed House update to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act of 2006, was placed on the House of Representatives suspension calendar yesterday and passed overwhelmingly with 405 affirmative votes of support. This is good news for the education and afterschool community, as the proposed law would extend opportunities for schools and communities to collaborate in engaging students in career pathways to well-paid, in demand careers.

The Afterschool Alliance submitted a letter of support for the bill to the House Education and Workforce (HEW) committee this week. The bill, as outlined in an earlier blog, includes many positive advances: explicitly including community based organizations as eligible, extending eligible programming to begin in the 5th grade, drawing attention to the need for workplace/employability skills, and focusing on underrepresented groups within career categories, among other well-needed updates.

The Senate has now scheduled its mark-up of the Perkins legislation for next Wednesday, September 21. Whispers around Capitol Hill suggest that the Senate does not have any major disagreements on updating the legislation, but we must wait and see what the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee releases.

The Afterschool Alliance is glad that the model of effective, bipartisan work done in the House and continued awareness of the value of updated legislation has motivated the Senate into action. Feel free as always to make your own voices heard! We will aim to keep you updated as the legislative session continues.

For more general information on CTE and Career Pathways, visit our Career Pathways webpage.

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Legislation
SEP
12
2016

POLICY
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Afterschool & Law Enforcement: New tools for working with school resource officers

By Erik Peterson

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this post as part of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement blog series. For more information on the ways afterschool programs are partnering with local police, check out our previous blogs on building relationships and trust, the motivations for partnerships and on the law enforcement caucus’ briefing on youth mentoring.

Late last week, the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice released several new tools in the form of letters to states and districts emphasizing the importance of well-designed school resource officer (SRO) programs. School resource officers are law enforcement officers who provide security and crime prevention services to school communities. These new tools are intended to help SRO programs improve school climate, ensure safety for students and support student achievement in schools nationwide.

To the extent a local decision is made to use SROs in community schools, these resources will help state and local education and law enforcement agencies responsibly incorporate SROs in the learning environment. Additionally, the Departments have highlighted tools available for law enforcement agencies that also apply to higher education campus law enforcement agencies.

To assist states, schools and their law enforcement partners in assessing the proper role of SROs and campus law enforcement professionals, both the Education Department's and the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services released letters to states and districts emphasizing the importance of well-designed SRO programs and calling on leaders of institutions of higher education to commit to implementing recommendations from the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing in the campus policing context.

To assist in the K-12 context, the Departments also jointly released the Safe, School-based Enforcement through Collaboration, Understanding, and Respect (SECURe) Rubrics. These new resources can help education and law enforcement agencies that use SROs to review and, if necessary, revise SRO-related policies in alignment with common-sense action steps that can lead to improved school safety and better outcomes for students while safeguarding their civil rights.

Afterschool advocates at the state and local level have been working with community organizations, school district leadership and law enforcement on using the afterschool setting as a venue to build better relationships between law enforcement and young people. The new tools released by the Departments of Education and Justice are a welcome addition to the resources available for this work.