By Jodi Grant
Valentine’s Day is all about showing the people you love how much they mean to you. It’s about expressing how you feel to those who make your life richer and more meaningful.
This year, moms around the country are sending Valentines to their afterschool programs.
It’s no wonder that afterschool programs hold a special place in the hearts of many busy parents. As a mom myself, I know how important it is to be sure that when they are not with me, my children are safe, supervised, learning and engaged. Afterschool programs do all that—they provide a space for children to expand their horizons, learn new skills, have new experiences, and explore their potential—all in a safe environment with adults who care about their success in school and in life. For moms in the workforce in particular, they are a life-saver.
Every day at the Afterschool Alliance, we hear from mothers who tell us how important afterschool programs are to them. They are impressed with the dedication and commitment of afterschool staff and volunteers, who work so hard to create opportunities for their kids to explore their interests. They say their children enjoy the programs, talk about what they learned there, and participate in exciting activities – from judo to robotics to dance to creative writing.
Afterschool leader praises 2014 budget, lauds Congress for 'prioritizing children and working families'
By Jodi Grant
Statement of Jodi Grant, Executive Director, Afterschool Alliance
“The omnibus appropriations bill that Congress passed this week is a welcome step in the right direction toward prioritizing children and working families, as the country makes hard spending choices.
In restoring nearly $60 million in sequester cuts to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, Congress signaled that keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and helping working families are priorities. That is very good news, as is the funding level of $1.149 billion, now in place for the remainder of FY2014. The 21st CCLC is the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool and summer learning programs, providing badly needed programs to 1.1 million students, many of whom would otherwise be unsupervised and at-risk when schools are closed.
This appropriations bill is also a step forward in terms what it does not contain—language that would allow 21st CCLC funds to be diverted for purposes other than providing the afterschool, before-school and summer programs children so urgently need.
The latest Shriver Report on poverty in the U.S. shines a light on the many challenges facing working women, especially working moms, and the supports that could help them gain sure footing and step away from the brink of financial disaster. While women hold much sway as consumers and voters, too many are struggling to stay afloat, despite working harder than ever. The 2014 Shriver Report, A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink reports that:
- Women are nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage workers in the country.
- 40 percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income.
- The median earnings of full-time female workers are still just 77 percent of the median earnings of their male counterparts.
What’s refreshing is that Americans recognize we need to do more to support working women and families, and afterschool programs and child care are an enormous part of the solution. The Shriver Report poll of 3,000 Americans found that:
By Jodi Grant
Statement of Jodi Grant, Executive Director, Afterschool Alliance. Read full press release here.
Gov. Cuomo’s announcement this afternoon is welcome news for afterschool programs across New York, and the children, working families and schools that rely on them. Afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working families by relieving parents of worries about whether their children are safe, supervised, and engaged in enriching, educational activities after the school day ends. But in recent years, in New York and across the country, these programs have suffered due to budget cuts and reductions in private contributions.
The need for afterschool programs remains huge. According to the Afterschool Alliance’s America After 3 PM study, 779,000 students in New York are on their own after school. The parents of 1.1 million New York kids say their children would participate in an afterschool program if one were available. Too often, it hasn’t been – but Gov. Cuomo aims to change that with the initiative he announced today.
Like the vast majority of parents, educators and the public, Gov. Cuomo made clear that he recognizes that afterschool programs are essential to giving our children the start they deserve. Combined with his new pre-K initiative, he has introduced a powerful package of supports for children and families. We commend his priorities, which will benefit New York families immeasurably.
With only a few days before the Continuing Resolution funding the federal government expires on Wednesday, House and Senate appropriators unveiled the Fiscal Year 2014 (FY2014) Omnibus Appropriations bill last night. For the more than 8 million young people and their families that rely on afterschool and summer learning programs, the proposed Omnibus represents a step in the right direction. Most importantly, the majority of the FY2013 sequester cut to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative is restored, and no language was included allowing the diversion of afterschool funds to other purposes. In addition, there are slight increases in other key funding streams that support afterschool programs.
Congress plans to pass an additional three day Continuing Resolution to allow time to consider and pass the FY2014 Omnibus bill. The Omnibus is a compromise between House and Senate appropriations committees and was made possible as a result of the budget deal struck between House and Senate Budget Committee Chairs last month, funding the government at $1 trillion through the end of September. Both the House and Senate must pass the Omnibus bill and the president must sign it before it becomes law.
While many students nationwide are excitedly awaiting their winter holiday break, for the 21 million children who rely on school breakfast and lunch as their primary source of nutrition, school holidays can lead to hunger pains. Since 2011, the Afterschool Meals Program offered through the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) has provided federal funding to afterschool programs operating in low-income areas to serve meals and snacks to children 18 and under during school holidays as well as after school and on weekends. A number of schools will offer meals during their winter breaks.
Other communities are coming together to provide students in need with a backpack of groceries to take home to their families and provide nourishment over the long school holiday. In Erie, Pennsylvania, more than 1,000 second- and third-graders, will receive five-pound bags of food to take home for the winter break. Coordinators with the Erie School District and Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania's backpack program know that these children will be without free school meals until they return to school on Jan. 2. In Hancock, Michigan, volunteers packed 6,000 meals into backpacks to ensure that 125 students in the area would have food for three daily meals over the 16-day break.
Earlier this month, the National Human Services Assembly (NHSA) released a new report, “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Young Families: Two-Generation Strategies for Disconnected Young Parents & Their Children.” The report, sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, studied 32 organizations and highlighted best practices for two-generation approaches to overcoming poverty.
More than1.4 million youth ages 15-24 are out of school, out of work and raising dependent children. Unless communities offer alternative pathways to connect these families with ladders of opportunity, many young families will not be able to achieve financial independence. Programs that use a two-generation approach simultaneously address the developmental needs of both young parents and their children, increasing the likelihood that both generations will have better long-term outcomes.
By Jen Rinehart
A new report from the Coalition for Community Schools highlights the prevalence of expanded learning opportunities, including afterschool and summer programs, in community schools—schools that unite with community partners to offer a range of supports for youth, families and communities with the goal of improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities.
“The Growing Convergence of Community Schools and Expanded Learning Opportunities” confirms what afterschool and community school advocates have often touted: expanded learning opportunities are a key component of the community schools strategy. Based on a survey of community schools, the report finds:
- Close to 90 percent of the community school initiatives surveyed describe the expansion and improvement of expanded learning activities as part of their community schools strategy.
- Approximately one-third of respondents indicated that at least half of their work focuses on expanded learning opportunities (compared to all other possible opportunities and supports, such as health services, mental health services, and family and community engagement).
- Of those who offer expanded learning, 90 percent offer afterschool and nearly 70 percent offer summer programs. About one-quarter offer extended school day and expanded learning opportunities during the conventional school day.