Tuesday’s election results brought in a new wave of hope for our nation’s children. As many of the newly elected officials and their proposals promised to bring sweeping reform across some of our largest school districts, some officials went even a step further and promised expansion of afterschool and summer programming.
In New York City, the newly elected Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to improve communication between the New York State Education Department, Homeless Services and Child Services. At the center of his educational platform is a plan to provide universal pre-kindergarten and increase afterschool programming for middle school students. To raise the necessary funds, the mayor will raise the NYC income tax rate for incomes above $500,000 from 3.876 percent to 4.3 percent. According to the Independent Budget Office, a municipal agency, the increase would average out to $973 a year for each of the 27,300 city taxpayers earning between $500,000 and $1 million. His campaign website expands on his afterschool proposal:
Over the last several years in New York City, afterschool programs have been dramatically cut from 87,000 slots in 2008, to roughly 20,000 slots for FY2014. Bill de Blasio has called for a large-scale expansion of afterschool programs for all middle school students by taxing New York’s wealthiest residents. The extended learning time in afterschool programs helps our students make positive gains in their academic performance, benefit from diverse programs that enrich learning, improve communication skills with adults, decrease behavioral problems, and it offers young people alternatives to trouble on the streets.
In late October former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came to Washington, D.C., to shine a light on the importance of federal funding for afterschool programs. Through meetings hosted by leadership in both the House of Representatives and the Senate with both Republicans and Democrats, as well as a meeting with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a stop at the new D.C. After-School All-Stars program, Gov. Schwarzenegger made clear the importance of afterschool programs in keeping young people safe and supported, inspiring learning for children and youth, and helping working families.
The focus of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s meetings on Capitol Hill was to express strong support for continued federal funding for afterschool programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative. The governor urged Members of Congress to find a separate funding stream for lengthening the school day or school year so that it doesn't compete with funding for afterschool programs. He also called for supporting the 21st CCLC program so that afterschool programs become an expectation, not an afterthought.
Last night Congress passed a bill based on an agreement struck by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that ended the the 16-day federal government shutdown and raised the debt ceiling, avoiding an international economic crisis.
After 16 days of the vast majority of the Federal workforce at home (90 percent of the Department of Education was furloughed), the bill reopens the government by providing funding through Jan. 15, 2014, at last year’s levels. For key federal funding that supports afterschool and summer learning programs, like the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative and Child Care Development Fund (CCDF), the bill means funding at last year’s levels despite increasing program costs and growing demand for quality afterschool programs. The agreement also leaves in place the sequester, which is expected to result in an additional 7.2 percent cut to federal non-defense discretionary programs on Jan. 15. Education advocates are hopeful that the conference committee established by the agreement will address the pending sequester cut. A final budget for FY2014 will have to be negotiated, voted on and signed by the president before the funding runs out on Jan. 15.
Ed. Note: This blog was originally posted as part of the ACT4JJ Campaign's JJDPA Matters Blog Project, a 16-week series that launched Sept. 10, 2013. You can find the full series at the JJDPA Matters Action Center.
For almost 40 years, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) has supported the work of afterschool programs to protect young people and promote safe communities. While just one part of the whole JJDPA picture, funding for evidence-based afterschool programs has empowered communities to implement innovative programs that provide opportunities to engage young people in their own futures. This week, JJDPA will be on our minds as more than one million Americans and thousands of communities nationwide celebrate Lights On Afterschool, an annual event that helps to raise awareness about the need for afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.
The JJDPA was one of the first federal legislative efforts to clearly link quality afterschool programming to the prevention of youth crime and violence. Within Title V of the law, Incentive Grants for Local Delinquency Prevention Programs fund a range of innovative and effective initiatives that bring together communities to provide mentoring and engaging activities for young people. A cost effective alternative to detention and incarceration, prevention and early intervention efforts like afterschool programs during the peak hours of youth crime (3-7:00 p.m.) keep young people safe while engaging in learning opportunities ranging from dance, gardening and spoken word, to robotics and building solar powered cars. Increasingly these programs are a setting for hands-on, social-emotional learning that help young people develop the skills they need to succeed in school and in life.
Late last month, leaders from more than 40 state afterschool networks, including representatives from state education agencies, gathered for several days in Washington, D.C., for a national convening: “Expanded Learning Opportunities: STEM Programs and Systems.”
The convening, co-hosted by the Department of Education, the C.S. Mott Foundation and the Noyce Foundation, focused on creating positive STEM outcomes for more students through collaboration and cooperation among national, state and local partners. Sessions allowed network leaders and education officials to work together to consider how to leverage investments and actions to expand the availability of quality informal science in afterschool and impact more students across the country.
Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton opened the conference with a well-received talk on the partnerships necessary to generate the best possible STEM outcomes in young people. Stating that learning occurring after school is just as essential as learning taking place during the school day, the deputy secretary demonstrated his understanding of the depth and power of informal STEM education occurring in quality afterschool programs.
With Congress unable to work through its normal appropriations process, the federal 2013 fiscal year ended at midnight last night without a budget to begin the next year, resulting in a shutdown of the federal government. Congress had been working on a continuing resolution (CR) that would have funded all federal programs at almost current levels through Nov. 15 or Dec. 15, at which time Congress would have to pass another funding bill. The House and Senate couln't agree on the terms of the CR over the past few weeks of negotiations, ultimately leading to the shutdown.
Until a short-term CR is passed, the government remains shut down; only personnel and programs deemed ‘essential’ are able to continue to function. That being said, because many of the federal programs that fund afterschool programs are forward funded or reimbursed, the impact of the government shutdown will likely not be felt unless the shutdown extends beyond the week.
At the Department of Education, more than 90 percent of employees are to be furloughed during the first week of a shutdown. However, the department has stated that they will disperse roughly $22 billion in key K-12 formula funding through state Title I, special education, and career and technical education grants that were due to go out during the first week of October. At this time, funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative is not expected to be affected.
On Wednesday the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2013 (S. 1086) passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee by unanimous voice vote. The bipartisan bill—sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN)—was last reauthorized in 1996.
CCDBG 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 totaling $5 billion a year. About 600,000 school-age children are provided with care through CCDBG. All of the senators agreed about the importance of providing high-quality, affordable, safe child care. This bill also gives working parents the flexibility to determine the best child care options for their family. To ensure that child care centers are safe, the bill enacted several provisions that reflect the changes that have occurred in the 17 years since the last reauthorization. These changes include:
While this November is not a Congressional election, there are a number of state and local races that are garnering national attention—and afterschool programs have been a part of several of those election campaigns. In particular, the governor’s race in New Jersey and the mayor’s race in New York City have featured candidates proposing substantial expansions of afterschool programs.
Democratic New Jersey Gubernatorial Candidate Barbara Buono has incorporated afterschool as part of her education platform. In general she has pushed for additional resources to ensure that all children in New Jersey have the supports and opportunities they need. Her education platform specifically includes a vision for supporting afterschool programs:
Restore funding for before and afterschool care programs. Before and afterschool programs provide students with meaningful recreation and enrichment opportunities and ensure the process of learning continues even outside the classroom. Restoring funding to these programs will be critical to helping our students thrive.
|Thanks for becoming an Afterschool Meals Champion!||Making Afterschool an Election Issue|
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|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|
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|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|
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|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)|