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.”
Today the Senate followed the action of the House of Representatives this past September and passed S.1086–The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014: Amended Version. The bipartisan, bicameral bill represents a compromise of the legislation that passed the Senate in March by a vote of 96-2. Due to the changes in the House version, the Senate has to pass the bill again before sending it to the president’s desk to be signed into law. This marks the first time in 18 years that comprehensive Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization legislation has passed both the House and Senate.
The bill that passed reflects a bipartisan agreement reached by Congressional leaders in mid-September to reauthorize CCDBG after several months of negotiations by Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.), George Miller (D-Calif.), Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) and David Loebsack (D-Iowa), as well as Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Richard Burr (R-N.C.). The agreement will enhance transparency, strengthen health and safety protections, and improve the quality of care for children of low-income families aged birth to 13.
Legislation that would provide affordable and timely background checks to afterschool program providers still has a chance to pass during the 114th Congress. The Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA - S. 1362 and H.R. 3902) would provide afterschool and other youth-serving organizations with access to nationwide FBI fingerprint searches of potential volunteers at a reasonable cost and turnaround time. The legislation addresses inadequacies within the current background check system, which include: lack of access to nationwide checks, high cost and an often-lengthy response time.
In the wake of the 2014 midterm elections, time is running out for Members of Congress to pass CPIA before Congress adjourns in December. The legislation enjoys strong bipartisan support and this month the Afterschool Alliance joined MENTOR and 20 other youth serving organizations in signing letters to Senate and House leaders in support of the bill.
After more than a month-long recess leading up to the mid-term elections, Members of Congress are back in the Nation’s capitol and will be in session starting on Wednesday, November 12th for a “Lame Duck” session that must finalize the FY 2015 appropriations spending bills to fund federal government operations for the period December 12, 2014, through September 30, 2015. The government is currently funded through a continuing resolution (CR) at FY 2014 levels.
The Bipartisan Budget Act that passed in December 2013 capped discretionary spending at $1.014 trillion in FY 2015 – essentially the mid-point between Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The agreement restored $63 billion in sequestration cuts over two years, split evenly between defense and nondefense discretionary spending programs. Nondefense discretionary spending (which includes most federal support for afterschool and summer learning programs though the Department of Education and Health and Human Services) is capped at $492.4 billion in FY 2015, however that will change going into FY 2016 at which time nondefense discretionary spending faces a $43 billion (8 percent) cut, unless Congress acts to reverse sequestration.
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.
Don’t forget to get out and vote tomorrow! No matter the results of the midterm elections, we can expect a number of new faces in public offices across the country, from local school boards to governor’s mansions to Congress. We know from the recent America After 3PM data that an overwhelming majority of parents, 84 percent, support public funding for afterschool programs including 91 percent of Democratic parents and 80 percent of Republican parents. Education is among the portfolio of issues being mentioned by candidates.
This winter will be the perfect time to educate newly elected officials and their incoming staff on the importance of quality afterschool programs for all students. You can even bring the new America After 3 PM data with you to let officials know the afterschool landscape in their state. For more guidance on post-election follow up see the Afterschool Alliance’s toolbox on Making Afterschool an Election Issue.
Earlier this week Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) announced plans to introduce the Community Partnerships in Education Act, which will help children and families by investing in high-quality afterschool systems nationwide. The bill supports quality afterschool programs by incentivizing and requiring strong partnerships between schools and community-based organizations in an effort to increase student engagement in programs that support education and career readiness.
In an event announcing the bill at Nathan Bishop Middle School in Providence, R.I., Rep. Cicilline, who has served on the Afterschool Alliance board of directors since his days as mayor of Providence, stated “Afterschool programs are one of the single most effective ways to keep children safe outside of school and on track for success. When young people succeed it leads to stronger communities and a stronger economy. The Community Partnerships in Education Act will help keep children safe and ensure children have access to enriching activities out of school.”
Nutritious meals provided to children during afterschool and summer learning programs have the dual effect of nourishing students while making them more apt to learn and benefit from enriching activities. And according to Baltimore’s Holabird Academy Principal Anthony Ruby, the shared meals also build a sense of community that helps foster student success. Legislation to strengthen out-of-school-time child nutrition programs could increase this positive impact on young people.
On Oct. 8, Mr. Ruby joined Crystal FitzSimmons of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Elena Rocha of the YMCA of the USA, and Terri Kerwawich of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department in addressing Congressional staff during a briefing on Capitol Hill focusing on feeding children year-round through the afterschool and summer meal programs.
A standing-room only crowd of policy makers, advocates and media heard about the vital role played by the At-Risk Afterschool Meals and the Summer Nutrition programs in providing nutritious food for hungry children when school is out of session:
|Thanks for becoming an Afterschool Meals Champion!||Making Afterschool an Election Issue|
|Policy and Action Center: Take Action||Congressional Caucuses|
|Policy & Action Center - Main||Afterschool in Your State|
|Race to the Top Fund||State Budget Process|
|Governors' Children's Cabinets||Success Stories on Afterschool and Economic Recovery|
|Afterschool in Rural Communities: The Investment in Afterschool Programs Act||Education Reform Opportunities in ARRA|
|State Policy - State Budget Process||State Policy|
|State Policy - Legislation||State Policy Trends|
|Sample Letter from 21st CCLC or Other Programs||Sample Letter from a Parent|
|Ask the Candidates about Their Position on Afterschool||Sample Letter to the President|
|Sample Script for Calling the White House||Sample Script for Calling Congress|
|Tips on Writing Letters-to-the-Editor||Lights On Afterschool Gallery|
|Lights On Afterschool Gallery||Afterschool in Action: Innovative Afterschool Programs Supporting Middle School Youth (2013)|