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.
By Sarah Keller
It's been 10 days since the government shutdown began, and with Congress still deadlocked over a Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2014, afterschool programs around the country are starting to feel the effect. From the National Park Service to USDA nutrition programs and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), local media have uncovered how the shutdown of a diverse set of federal programs is negatively impacting children served by community afterschool programs:
- Aviator Sports and Events Center, located inside Gateway National Recreation Area, a National Park Service area in Brooklyn, has been deemed non-essential and thus closed since the shutdown began. This has caused the families of the 35 children attending the program rushing to find alternative arrangements.
- AmeriCorps VISTA members, who work at nonprofits aimed at reducing poverty while living on a poverty-level salary for a year, receive their salary in part through the CNCS—unavailable while the shutdown continues. The local CBS affiliate in northern Nevada reports how the Reno Bike Project afterschool program’s VISTA is affected by the shutdown.
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.
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.