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Raise your voice for afterschool programs on 3/26

This Weds., 3/26, raise awareness about the value of afterschool programs and support the Afterschool for America’s Children Act: S. 326! 

Every afternoon between the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. children nationwide should have the opportunity to participate in engaging afterschool programs that support their learning and development and spark their passions and creativity.  In recognition of the afterschool hours of opportunity from 3 to 6 p.m., on 3/26 use your own social media network to promote afterschool and build support for Senate Bill 326—the Afterschool for America’s Children Act. 

The bipartisan Afterschool for America’s Children Act, S. 326 and HR 4086—led by Sens. Boxer, Murkowski and Murray in the Senate and by Reps. Kildee and DeLauro in the House—would reauthorize and strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative—the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool and summer learning programs—by supporting innovative advances that support student success. 

Quick ways you can take action!


Senate passes Child Care and Development Block Grant Act

Bipartisan support and a great deal of advocacy from supporters of child care, afterschool programs and early education led senators to vote overwhelmingly yesterday in favor of reauthorizing S. 1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014.  This was the first reauthorization of CCDBG since 1996.

The Afterschool Alliance supported the legislation and its recognition of the importance of including care for school-age children up to 13 years old.  Given the research on the benefits of a continuum of care that begins with early education and extends into the school-age years of childhood, it's important to emphasize the value of quality school-age child care to achieve positive outcomes for children, including improved academic performance, work habits and study skills.  The bill includes many common-sense measures to help protect children in child care, such as requiring providers to undergo comprehensive background checks and ensuring annual inspections are conducted.

The need for quality afterschool programs and child care for school-age children continues to grow, therefore adequate funding for CCDBG will be necessary for this legislation to have the most impact.  The FY2015 spending process is scheduled to begin in earnest next month.  In addition to ensuring adequate resources for CCDBG, the House must also pass a CCDBG reauthorization bill.  The House Education and the Workforce Committee is reportedly planning a hearing on CCDBG for the morning of March 25.  Take action here to support funding for CCDBG and other federal afterschool funding sources.

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Take action: Senate to take up child care bill this week

This week the Senate is expected to debate and vote on reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). CCDBG, which was last reauthorized nearly 20 years ago, is the main federal source of funding for families needing child care and also funds child care quality initiatives.  Currently, 1.6 million children a month—from birth to age 13—receive funding to cover child care expenses, totaling $5 billion a year.  About 600,000 school-age children are provided with afterschool program care through CCDBG. 

Advocates can reach out to senators in support of the legislation:
  • Call 202-224-3121. Tell the operator the name of one of your senators. (Not sure? Look up your senators here.)
  • Once you are connected to your senator's office, tell the staff person who answers:
    1. Your name
    2. That you are a constituent (name your city and state)
  • Then, say, "I urge the senator to vote yes on the bill to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Thank you."
Read Afterschool Snack blog entries about: Advocacy Congress Legislation

New House Budget Committee report fails to recognize recent 21st CCLC research and effectiveness

On March 3, just one day before the president released his FY2015 budget proposal, the House Budget Committee issued a report on federal spending related to federal antipoverty efforts entitled The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later.  Among the 92 federal programs reviewed in the report is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative.   

The Budget Committee report seeks to examine the effectiveness of Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson’s "War on Poverty" that was launched 50 years ago. According to the report, there are at least 92 federal programs designed to help lower-income Americans, including education and job-training programs, food-aid programs and housing programs.

The report does include a brief entry on the 21st CCLC initiative, the only coordinated federal effort that supports afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs delivered by local schools and community-based organizations. 21st CCLC programs provide students attending high-poverty schools with academic enrichment activities; a broad array of additional services designed to reinforce and complement the regular academic program such as hands-on experiments to excite children about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), access to physical activity, drug and violence prevention programs, counseling programs, art, music, opportunities to be creative, and technology education programs; as well as literacy and related educational development services to the families of children who are served in the program.  In addition, afterschool programs provide an infrastructure to bring in other resources to our children including access to mentors, tutors, and nutritious snacks and meals. 

Read Afterschool Snack blog entries about: 21st CCLC Budget Congress Evaluations Federal Policy Obama

Updated: The afterschool and summer learning perspective on the president's 2015 budget

Today Pres. Obama released his budget request for the upcoming 2015 fiscal year, which begins this October.  With regard to support for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, the president requested $1.149 billion—reflecting the same level for 21stCCLC as was in the FY2014 omnibus bill that passed in January. As was the case in his budget request last year, the president proposes to radically change 21st CCLC to a competitive grant at the federal level as well as to prioritize 21st CCLC grant funding for new purposes including adding time to the traditional school day or year, and for teacher planning and professional development.

According to the discussion of the budget request for the Department of Education:

Funds would support competitive grants to states, local education agencies, nonprofit organizations, or local governmental entities for projects that provide the additional time, support, and enrichment activities needed to improve student achievement, including projects that support expanding learning time by significantly increasing the number of hours in a regular school schedule and by comprehensively redesigning the school schedule for all students in a school. Projects could also provide teachers the time they need to collaborate, plan, and engage in professional development within and across grades and subjects.


Reps. Kildee, DeLauro introduce bill to strengthen support of afterschool and summer learning programs

Yesterday evening Reps. Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Afterschool for America's Children Act in the House of Representatives, HR 4086.  The  legislation would reauthorize and strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative—the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool programs—by supporting innovative advances taking root in before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs. The bill is companion legislation to S. 326 introduced previously in the Senate. A summary of the legislation is available here.

The House bill:                     

  • Strengthens school-community partnerships to include sharing of data and resources, the ability to better leverage relationships within the community and provide an intentional alignment with the school day.
  • Promotes professional development and training of afterschool program staff.
  • Encourages innovative new ways to engage students in learning that looks different from a traditional school day, with an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); and physical activity and nutrition education. 
  • Supports approaches that focus on individualized learning that provide a variety of ways for students to master core skills and knowledge.
  • Provides accountability measures that are connected to college- and career-readiness goals and show student progress over time toward meeting indicators of student success including school attendance, grades and on-time grade level advancement.
  • Ensures that funding supports programs that utilize evidence-based, successful practices.
  • Increases quality and accountability through parent engagement; better alignment with state learning objectives; and coordination between federal, state and local agencies. 
  • Does not prioritize any one model of expanded learning opportunities over another. 
  • Maintains formula grants to states that then distribute funds to local school-community partnerships through a competitive grant process.
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Increasing access to quality afterschool programs at the state level

While the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act continues to be bogged down in Congress, policy activity relating to education and expanding access to afterschool and summer learning programs at the state level has picked up—especially in New York, California and Kansas.

New York

In late January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo released his FY2015 state budget. Included in the plan were proposed investments in children and families through support for statewide universal pre-kindergarten, afterschool programs and increased funding for child care. The governor pledged $720 million over five years to support the expansion of afterschool programs for middle school students. The proposed funding could expand access to afterschool programs for up to 100,000 additional students in the first year. The announcement followed the proposal of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to increase access to afterschool programs for middle school students in New York City. The governor’s budget also proposed an increase in New York’s investment in child care by increasing funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant by $21 million. Child care subsidies are at least $80 million less today than in 2010-2011, when New York benefitted from stimulus funds. For more information on the afterschool proposal in New York, including testimony at a recent hearing, visit the website of the New York State Afterschool Network.

Read Afterschool Snack blog entries about: Congress ESEA State Networks State Policy Community Partners

Moving toward a more family friendly nation with afterschool for all

This month marks the 21st anniversary of the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the historic legislation signed into law by Pres. Clinton in 1993 that has done so much to support working families. Given the new focus in Washington on supporting working families, it is worthwhile to revisit another legacy of the Clinton administration that has also been tremendously helpful for millions of working mothers and fathers during the past decade: the 21stCentury Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative.

Quality afterschool and summer learning programs funded through the 21st CCLC initiative provide a safe and engaging place for more than 1.6 million children and youth while their parents are at work.  We know that parents with children in afterschool programs are less stressed, have fewer unscheduled absences and are more productive at work.  However, with 15 million school-age children unsupervised between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m. on weekdays, the need for afterschool programs far outstrips the availability.  As detailed in our 2011 issue brief, “Afterschool and Working Families in Wake of the Great Recession,” the gap between work and school schedules amounts to as much as 25 hours per week, which presents working parents whose children are not served by 21st CCLC or another afterschool program with the expensive challenge of finding someone to care for their children while they are at work.

Read Afterschool Snack blog entries about: 21st CCLC Federal Policy Issue Briefs Obama Working Families