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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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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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DEC
19

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Every Hour Counts, a report from Vermonts PreK-16 Council

By Erik Peterson

Dr. Holly Morehouse is the Executive Director of Vermont’s statewide afterschool network. Vermont Afterschool, Inc., is a statewide nonprofit that supports organizations in providing quality afterschool, summer and expanded learning experiences so that Vermont’s children and youth have the opportunities, skills and resources they need to become healthy, productive members of society.

 

 

For every $1 invested in quality afterschool and summer learning programs, Vermont sees a return of $2.18 in long-term benefits and savings.

This is just one of many findings in a new report, Every Hour Counts: Vermont’s Students Succeed with Expanded Learning Opportunities, from Vermont’s Working Group on Equity and Access in Expanded Learning Time.

The Working Group formed last June as a subcommittee of Vermont’s PreK-16 Council upon direction from the state legislature to evaluate issues of equity and access in Vermont’s Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs), including afterschool and summer learning programs. The group was charged with identifying:  key elements of quality ELOs; ways to increase access and remove barriers to ELOs across the state; and recommendations for how ELOs can support student success in Vermont.

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Caption: Vermont Afterschool, Inc. Executive Director Holly Morehouse (center in blue) presenting the Every Hour Counts report to Vermont’s PreK-16 Council.

Making the case for ELOs

With only six months to collect data, outline our findings and develop meaningful recommendations, time was short. It helped our work immensely to be able to draw on existing research and advocacy materials. Instead of trying to come up with separate quality standards, the Working Group adopted the Afterschool Alliance’s principles for effective ELOs. We also greatly benefited from the release of the America After 3PM report and data, and built off of the Afterschool Alliance’s talking points to emphasize that afterschool and summer programs keep kids safe, inspire learners and help working families.

Connecting to broader conversations in the state

The Working Group was sensitive to concerns over rising costs and increased pressures on Vermont’s education system. Instead of portraying ELOs as something added on top of these demands, we included a section highlighting how ELOs help schools and communities do what they’ve already been asked to do. In particular, the Working Group focused on how ELO programs support Vermont’s education vision by addressing the academic achievement gap and summer learning loss; supporting schools in meeting Vermont’s new Education Quality Standards; and providing opportunities in line with Vermont’s recent “Flexible Pathways” legislation.

Recommendations

Particularly exciting is the report’s recommendation to ensure that by 2020 children and youth in every Vermont community have access to quality Expanded Learning Opportunities. Getting buy-in around that statement is a big step forward for afterschool and summer learning in Vermont.

Even though we included data on how ELOs can save Vermont money over time, the Working Group decided not to include a specific financial request in the report. We wanted to avoid the cost debate that could have distracted from the message. The Working Group felt it was most important to get broad-based buy in behind the report and recommendations first. Now that the PreK-16 Council has approved, the report will be presented to a joint meeting of the Vermont House and Senate Education Committees in mid-January. In the following months, the network will develop a corresponding proposal about what it would take in funding and infrastructure to meet the goals presented in the recommendations (i.e., access in every Vermont community).

Thank you to our funders

Key to the success of the working group was analytical support that the network was able to provide through a Network Data Grant from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the C.S. Mott Foundation. The goal of this grant initiative is to help statewide networks collect relevant out-of-school time data and effectively share the data with state legislators and legislative staff, as well as other key state policy makers. 

 

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Caption: Students engaging in STEM activities at Winooski, VT’s 21st Century Community Learning Center summer learning program.

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DEC
17

RESEARCH
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Child Care Aware publishes new report on high cost of child care

By Sophie Papavizas

A few weeks after the bi-partisan reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Child Care Aware of America has published their annual report on Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, showing the increasing costs of child care in America.  In the recent release of America After 3 PM, the Afterschool Alliance also looked at the issue of costs, with 43 percent of parents citing the high cost of local programs as one of the major reasons for not enrolling their child in an afterschool program.

While the focus of the report is on child care for infants and toddlers, also included is data on the average annual cost of before and after school care for school aged children in each state.  The report compares these costs with the median income for both one parent and two parent households to calculate the proportion of family income going towards child care in comparison to other major expenses like housing and food.  Child Care Aware surveyed Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&Rs) State Network offices to obtain data related to the average cost of care in legally operating child care centers and family child care homes.  CCR&Rs pulled these numbers from the latest Market Rate Surveys and databases maintained by the networks.  Most data is from 2013, and older data from 2012 and 2011 was adjusted to 2013 dollars using the Consumer Price Index.

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learn more about: America After 3PM Federal Funding Federal Policy
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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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DEC
10

POLICY
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FY15 spending bill filed, on its way to House, Senate floor for passage

By Erik Peterson

House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) filed their compromise Fiscal Year 2015 spending bill last night that, if passed by both Chambers and signed into law by President Obama, will keep the federal government funded through September 30, 2015. Currently, the government is funded through a Continuing Resolution that expires tomorrow, December 11th. The bill has strong implications for federal afterschool funding. 

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 Advocacy Budget Congress Department of Education ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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NOV
19

POLICY
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Texas publishes statewide plan for expanded learning opportunities

By Sophie Papavizas

The Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) Council was established by the Texas Legislature in 2013 in order to improve quality and access to expanded learning opportunities in the state, including afterschool and summer programs. On November 1, the ELO Council published its first report, 2016-2017 Statewide Strategic Plan for Expanded Learning Opportunities, with the support of the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time (TXPOST). In the report, the council states that “high-quality ELO programs provide safe places, support economic growth, and help close the academic achievement gap by offering supplemental activities that support but do not replicate the general education program.”

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learn more about: Advocacy Extended Day State Networks State Policy Summer Learning Youth Development
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NOV
7

POLICY
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Midterm election 2014: the potential impact on federal support of afterschool programs

By Erik Peterson

After more than a year of anticipation, the 2014 midterm elections finally came and (mostly) went this week. With a few races still not officially decided, the headline is that the Republican Party will take over as the majority in the Senate in the next Congress with at least 52 seats, and they also added to their majority in the House. The 114th Congress, when it is sworn in early next year, will be one half of a divided government in Washington, opposite President Obama in the White House.  

The shift in control of Congress is potentially historic. In the House, the Republicans increased their majority to at least 243 seats, with Republican candidates leading in several undecided races. It is possible the Republican Party will control as many as 250 seats in the House, the largest Republican House majority since 1928.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Afterschool Caucus Congress Education Reform ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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OCT
27

LIGHTS ON
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49 governors recognize Lights On Afterschool

By Sarah Simpson

Throughout the month of October, thousands of afterschool programs rallied their communities to build support for the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire learning and help working families. 

And governors across the country got in on the action, too! In all, 49 governors and the mayor of Washington, D.C., recognized Lights On Afterschool—some proclaimed Oct. 23 as Lights On Afterschool Day in their state, others issued public letters of support and recognition of the good work being done in the state to support students and working families during the hours after school.  A few others went above and beyond and declared the entire week—or month!—to be a celebration of Lights On Afterschool.

We want to extend a special thank you to all of the governors who took the time to help make Lights On Afterschool 2014 such a special event. Here’s the list of governors who proclaimed Oct. 23 to be Lights On Afterschool Day in their state; different actions are noted:

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learn more about: Media Outreach State Policy
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