The 115th Congress is up and running and producing a lot of proposed legislation! If you go to Congress.gov you can see some of the most popular bills. BUT those bills garnering the most attention aren't always the most important. According to government tracking statistics, only 3% of bills introduced last year became law - that's why advocacy and policy specialists can be helpful to weed through the chaos.
Some bills are VERY important and very powerful and where advocates in the field can hone their attention to make a huge impact on policy. The Afterschool Alliance tracks federal bills and can be a good source to understand where to make your voice heard in support of afterschool.
This year, the most important fight is to ensure funding for 21st Century Community Learning centers in appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2017 and 2018. Our "take action" page is for those ready to advocate! You can also learn more about bills we are watching on our page of current federal legislation in afterschool.
(For those looking for information about important (not necessarily popular) bills to follow in the greater education community - we recommend going to an organization you trust and reading their policy and advocacy pages. For example, and not as an endorsement, the National PTA has a policy action page where you can see what bills they think will move forward and their opinions on those bills.)
Afterschool needs good federal policy and in this Congress we are focusing our efforts on the policy actions below. We know your time is valuable, so we hope to make your voice from the field as well informed, powerful and targeted as it can be! Reach out to us at any time if you have a question about a piece of federal legislation.
Key Recommendations for FY 2017 and 2018
Increase funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative by $133 million bringing the total to $1.3 billion and allowing approximately 140,000 additional children to access quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs through school and community based providers in all 50 states.
- Current funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative covers the costs associated with quality afterschool and summer learning programs for 1.6 million children. In the context of state and local budget shortfalls, and with more than 20 million parents who need afterschool programs for their children, additional support is needed.
- Funding afterschool and summer learning programs is a cost-effective investment that has the multiple benefits of providing a lifeline to working families, keeping young people safe and secure and increasing student success. Funding 21st CCLC at the $1.3 billion level will help meet the demand for quality programs and to address rising expenses associated with hiring and retaining trained program staff.
Support opportunities for K-12 students to access afterschool Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) programs by funding the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program (ESSA Title IV Part A) at $1.6 billion in the FY2017 spending bill.
- The passage of ESSA last December resulted in the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant, a block grant that gives local school districts the flexibility to partner with community based organizations to provide a wide variety of important student supports including afterschool STEM.
- Hands-on STEM education that is provided during afterschool and summer learning programs helps expose young people to potential STEM careers and encourages students to pursue STEM as part of their coursework.
Support increased access to afterschool meal and summer food programs through streamlining these programs in the Child Nutrition Act.
- A Summer Meals Act would help ensure all children in need have access to nutritious meals during afterschool programs and in the summer months. Members of Congress can show support by cosponsoring this bill.
- The Child Nutrition Act may be reauthorized this year, representing an opportunity to streamline the out of school nutrition programs and increase the number of children served.
Continue to grow support in the Afterschool Caucus
- More than 100 Members of the House and Senate are serving on the Afterschool Caucus. Membership of the Caucus signifies a commitment to afterschool, before-school and summer learning program opportunities for young people.
Contact Congress about afterschool funding and opportunities. Follow the Appropriations process on the Policy Blog.
Policy News: The latest afterschool policy news from Washington, D.C.
Federal Policy: More background and information on afterschool in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA - formerly No Child Left Behind), 21st CCLC appropriations, and policy arenas with ties to afterschool such as obesity prevention, STEM, older youth and rural areas.
Federal Legislation: View current bills in Congress relating to afterschool programs.
State Policy: State-specific data and contacts plus tools for developing and advancing afterschool policy at the state level.
Take Action: All you need to take action for afterschool, whether you have 2 minutes or a lifelong passion to promote afterschool.