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Guest blog: Afterschool makes "cents" for Georgia

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Guest blog: Afterschool makes "cents" for Georgia

By Jessica Woltjen, policy & outreach manager at the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network. 

When the clock strikes 3 p.m., thousands of Georgia’s youth head off to explore their interests, develop new skills, and build upon school day learning at afterschool and youth development programs across the state. The Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network (GSAN) recently released a new report entitled Investing in Georgia's Youth: Why Afterschool Makes "Cents” looking at the research behind these programs, key student outcome data, and the impact of afterschool on Georgia’s economy.

The research is clear – high-quality afterschool programs improve academic performance, decrease juvenile crime, and reduce drug and alcohol dependence. Not only do they benefit the youth enrolled in the programs, but the short- and long-term benefits yield a financial benefit to society greater than the accompanying cost. The report found that every $1 invested in these programs leads to a return on investment to Georgia’s taxpayers of $2.64.

The report focused on Georgia’s two major funding streams for out-of-school time programs: the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Program housed at the Georgia Department of Education and the Afterschool Care Program housed at the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. These locally-driven, federally-funded programs serve 99,330 youth at 521 programs across the state with high-quality programming.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Students regularly participating in Georgia’s 21st CCLC have higher school day attendance than both the Free and Reduced Lunch state average and the overall state average.
  • As engagement in Georgia’s 21st CCLC increases, there is strong decrease in grade retention and an increase in school day attendance.
  • For every $1 of federal funding, the Afterschool Care Program leverages an additional $2.47 through local funding and partnerships to provide out-of-school time programming.

Despite these accomplishments, Georgia has a long way to go in ensuring that all youth have access to these programs after the school day ends. The Afterschool Alliance’s America After 3PM report showed that nearly 590,000 more of Georgia’s youth would enroll in an afterschool program if one was available in their community. Additionally, 42 percent of Georgia’s counties, with a median population of 17,103, have no program funded through 21st CCLC or Afterschool Care Program and 73 percent of eligible programs that applied for 21st CCLC in the 2015-16 school  year were not funded.

Adding to the demand, Georgia does not currently have dedicated state funding allocated to afterschool and summer learning programs. The report found that if Georgia was to invest $25 million in high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs, an additional 45,409 youth would have access to these programs and taxpayers would save $154 million in immediate and long-term savings and benefits.

In addition to the new report, GSAN released a full suite of materials, including a video, memes, sample presentations, one-pagers, and more! We hope that you will use these materials to raise awareness of the importance of investing in high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs. Together, we can work to make sure that all youth, in Georgia and across the country, have a safe and enriching place to go when the school day ends.

To download the report and accompanying resources, go to www.afterschoolga.org/roi.

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