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Making the case for afterschool as a protective factor against substance use, opioid addiction

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Making the case for afterschool as a protective factor against substance use, opioid addiction

In communities nationwide struggling with opioid and other substance use, afterschool and summer learning programs are playing a critical role by increasing resilience among young people, supporting positive youth development, and preventing future substance use among children and youth. On May 22, the Senate Afterschool Caucus and 15 youth-serving organizations and afterschool providers came together for a congressional staff briefing detailing the ways afterschool and summer learning programs are working in a cost-effective way to help build and support an integrated, trauma-informed approach that supports children, youth, and families.

Program providers from the Montgomery County Maryland Park and Recreation Department and Boys and Girls Clubs of Tennessee Valley, as well as state-level afterschool leaders from Alaska and West Virginia, addressed a large crowd of more than 60 attendees to discuss their programs, partnerships, and efforts to support young people ages K through 12.

Mavis Nimoh of the Afterschool Leadership Circle and the United Way of Rhode Island moderated the briefing, which took place in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Mavis set the stage by providing background on both the opioid epidemic and the scope of the afterschool field in serving more than 10 million young people every afternoon.

“Afterschool is a place to practice good programming so children make good decisions for themselves and have positive outcomes,” Nimoh began.

Thomas Azzarella, Director, Alaska Afterschool Network, spoke directly to those outcomes in his geographically expansive and highly rural state. Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control for Alaska showed young people who engaged in afterschool programs just two times a week were 20 percent less likely to use alcohol and 40 percent less likely to use marijuana than their peers. “Afterschool itself is a protective factor,” Azzarella remarked, noting that protective factors are characteristics, including from skills, resources, and experiences, that help individuals to cope with the stresses of life and self-harming decisions such as substance use. The Alaskan state legislature just passed legislation that would expand access for more youth to engage in afterschool programs and the connections and supports they provide. 

Nila Cobb, 4-H, West Virginia University Extension Specialist – Healthy Living, shared her personal and professional connection to afterschool programs’ role in the opioid crisis prevention and treatment. Cobb’s own daughter suffered the disease of opioid addiction shortly after having her first child years ago. Cobb took responsibility for her grandson, now a recent high school graduate, and has been working within her community toward developing the research-based response, funding resources, transportation solutions, and continuum of care practices that prevent, treat, and support those affected ever since. It’s essential to address the problem from many angles, she noted, saying “If there was a (single) solution, I would have figured it out because I’ve been working at it for 19 years.”

Stacey Busby, Director, Boys and Girls Clubs of Tennessee Valley, discussed how, in some ways, her area’s designation as a highly affected area for drug use has proven to be a strange blessing. The designation in the top few slots comes with funding, part of which makes it possible for her program to provide safe, stable, nurturing environments for youth.

“But not all programs get to have this blessing,” she stated, “and that’s why we’re here today.”

The Tennessee Valley clubs began a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) initiative to address youth concerns about feeling unsafe in their schools and communities. They hired a licensed clinical social worker and work with a local university to access additional social work interns. They developed a system of working in partnership and building personal relationships with other community support agencies so they can provide a “warm hand-off” in connecting families with other needs. They also focus on valuing the youth and staff themselves, working directly with youth to determine their needs and provide supports and activities using a trauma-informed approach and engaging in conversations with club staff about looking at youth differently — changing the mindset from ‘what’s wrong with you’ to ‘what could have happened to you and how can we help.’

Tiffany Nelson, Recreation Specialist, Montgomery County Recreation, Maryland, presented information on the county’s Excel Beyond the Bell youth programs and how the programs use community partnerships to create a circle of support around their most vulnerable youth. More than three-quarters of the 2,000 students in her program are referred by the school system as highly vulnerable children. Programs are free and offer a hot meal and free transportation home. Nelson said the programs (which offer enrichment subjects such as STEM, the arts, cooking, sports, and civic leadership and engagement) are very popular and that she is known for her tendency to over-enroll to reduce the number of students on wait lists.

Four enthusiastic students from the Excel Beyond the Bell gave their own assessment of the impact the program has had on their lives thus far. Ethan and Frederick mentioned the programming including the mentoring programs, basketball programs, and targeted programming that encourages students to create their own anti-drug information campaigns and understand how drug use affects the body.

Another student mentioned the social connections he made: “My family still lives in Jamaica… so EBB has been like a family to me.” When he got in some trouble, mentors helped get him back on the right path.

One 8th grader, Valentina, spoke about hip-hop. “I get to show my talents and learn from others and the program helps me to keep away from my neighborhood until my parents get home.”

The briefing was hosted by the Senate Afterschool Caucus, co-chaired by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.). The briefing was provided in partnership with the Office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the Office of Sen. Tina Smith, the Afterschool Alliance, After-School All-Stars, Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Coaching Corps., Communities In Schools, Every Hour Counts, Forum for Youth Investment, Girls Inc., National 4-H Council, National League of Cities, National Recreation and Park Association, the Student Conservation Association, and the YMCA of the USA.

To learn more about afterschool and the social and emotional components of prevention see some selected readings below:

Virtual Hill Briefing recap: Afterschool and Summer Programs Support Learning and Recovery

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/27/20

HR 266 signed into law; additional Paycheck Protection Program funds are now available

On April 24, following passage by the Senate and House earlier last week, the President signed into law HR 266 - the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (also known as CARES Act 2.0 or as COVID19 stimulus package 3.5). The $480 million legislation focuses primarily on...

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FY2020 appropriations update: Afterschool funding increased!

House and Senate appropriators reached an agreement on final subcommittee allocations to avert a shutdown and fund the government past the December 20 deadline.  The final  bi-partisan bill language specifying funding levels for all government programs provides $1.25 billion for...

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On October 15, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674) (CAA) on behalf of all the Committee Democrats. Working expeditiously, the Committee  then passed the bill on October 31 by a 28-22 partisan...

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Afterschool programs and a trauma-informed approach

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FY2020 appropriations update: Afterschool funding increased!

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Federal funding update: Stopgap spending measure until Dec. 20

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College Affordability Act presents a mixed bag for afterschool supporters

On October 15, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674) (CAA) on behalf of all the Committee Democrats. Working expeditiously, the Committee  then passed the bill on October 31 by a 28-22 partisan...

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/27/20

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Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool, again

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HR 266 signed into law; additional Paycheck Protection Program funds are now available

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One week until the Virtual Afterschool for All Challenge: A policy and appropriations update

A month ago the president released his FY 2021 budget proposal, officially kicking off the appropriations process in Washington, D.C. Since then the House and the Senate Appropriations Committee and Subcommittees have been soliciting spending priorities from members of Congress and the public,...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/10/20

Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool, again

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BY: Erik Peterson      02/10/20

The time is now: Share your afterschool success story with senators

When Congress returns in September, the first thing on their agenda will be passing fiscal year 2020 spending bills. The House of Representatives passed all twelve of their spending bills earlier this year. The Senate waited on a budget deal, now signed into law, and will likely start with the...

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Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool

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Virtual Hill Briefing recap: Afterschool and Summer Programs Support Learning and Recovery

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/27/20

WORK NOW Act introduced in Senate, would help nonprofit organizations including afterschool providers

Late last week Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) along with Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), introduced legislation to help nonprofit organizations meet an increase in demand for their services due to the coronavirus pandemic while helping newly...

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How federal government funding is supporting child care in the states

Economic recovery cannot happen without child care, including quality, comprehensive care for school-age children of working parents. If the concern has not already impacted you directly, you may have become aware from the news stories which keep flooding in. “Will Child Care Be There...

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HR 266 signed into law; additional Paycheck Protection Program funds are now available

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BY: Erik Peterson      04/27/20

Implementation process begins for CARES Act education funds

While the CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, the $30.75 billion Education Stabilization Fund authorized by the legislation is still in the early stages of the implementation process led by the US Department of Education. Four grant programs were created through the CARES Act under the...

BY: Erik Peterson      04/15/20

CARES Act signed into law, includes support for afterschool, nonprofits, and child care

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Get the latest afterschool STEM news in your inbox

The next issue of the Afterschool Lab Report is coming in just a few days. Brought to you each quarter by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the newsletter provides the latest STEM education policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new...

BY: Leah Silverberg      10/31/19

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BY: Erik Peterson      10/03/19

Federal support for STEM and making in afterschool

Picture a center filled with computers, paired with a wood and metal shop, combined with a sewing studio, mixed with an arts and crafts room, filled with people of all ages building and making things to solve problems – this is the foundation of a maker space. Maker spaces were born out of...

BY: Leah Silverberg      08/12/19

Afterschool makes a difference for middle school career exposure in CTE

“Imaginations are what will carry us to the future, and (for me) Digital Harbor helped to expand it,” 7th grader Jacob Leggette proclaimed in front of the full room at the Senate Career and Technical (CTE) Education Caucus  and Afterschool Alliance Briefing on June 25. The...

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BY: Guest Blogger      06/25/19

Get the latest afterschool STEM news in your inbox

The next issue of the Afterschool Lab Report is coming at the end of April. Brought to you each quarter by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the newsletter provides the latest STEM education policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new...

BY: Leah Silverberg      04/15/19

New toolkit for partnering on career and technical education

In July 2018, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, or Perkins V, was passed by Congress and signed into law. The legislation reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and provides much needed updates to the law that reflect the...

BY: Chris Neitzey      04/09/19

Investments in quality afterschool STEM policy will continue in 2019

For successful advocacy efforts, slow and steady wins the race. Advancing legislation or budget requests at the state or federal level requires resources, content expertise, and a dedication that often spans a timeframe far longer than originally anticipated. As we enter the third year of a...

BY: Chris Neitzey      12/18/18

What does the Trump administration’s 5-Year STEM Education Strategy mean for afterschool?

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BY: Chris Neitzey      12/07/18

Afterschool goes to college

After celebrating an updated law in Career and Technical Education (CTE) in July, it’s natural to ask “What’s next?” in the education landscape for Congress. One thing on the agenda is the Higher Education Act, or HEA, which governs federal investments in making quality...

BY: Jillian Luchner      10/09/18

Get the latest afterschool STEM news in your inbox

The next issue of the Afterschool Lab Report is coming in just a few days. Brought to you each quarter by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the newsletter provides the latest STEM education policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new...

BY: Leah Silverberg      10/31/19

Bipartisan Youth Workforce Readiness Act announced

In late September, plans to introduce the bipartisan, bicameral Youth Workforce Readiness Act were announced in the House and Senate by Sen. Smith (D-Minn.) and Rep .Josh Harder (D-Calif.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). The legislation would provide funding for hands-on skills education at...

BY: Erik Peterson      10/03/19

Federal support for STEM and making in afterschool

Picture a center filled with computers, paired with a wood and metal shop, combined with a sewing studio, mixed with an arts and crafts room, filled with people of all ages building and making things to solve problems – this is the foundation of a maker space. Maker spaces were born out of...

BY: Leah Silverberg      08/12/19

Afterschool makes a difference for middle school career exposure in CTE

“Imaginations are what will carry us to the future, and (for me) Digital Harbor helped to expand it,” 7th grader Jacob Leggette proclaimed in front of the full room at the Senate Career and Technical (CTE) Education Caucus  and Afterschool Alliance Briefing on June 25. The...

BY: Jillian Luchner      07/09/19

Putting afterschool to work: Career exploration in out-of-school settings

By Jillian Luchner, Christopher Neitzey, and Austin Estes from Advance CTE. This is a cross-post of the first blog post in a series on the intersection of CTE and afterschool programs, exploring strategies and opportunities to bridge learning both in and out of the classroom. The original...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/25/19

Get the latest afterschool STEM news in your inbox

The next issue of the Afterschool Lab Report is coming at the end of April. Brought to you each quarter by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the newsletter provides the latest STEM education policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new...

BY: Leah Silverberg      04/15/19

New toolkit for partnering on career and technical education

In July 2018, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, or Perkins V, was passed by Congress and signed into law. The legislation reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and provides much needed updates to the law that reflect the...

BY: Chris Neitzey      04/09/19

Investments in quality afterschool STEM policy will continue in 2019

For successful advocacy efforts, slow and steady wins the race. Advancing legislation or budget requests at the state or federal level requires resources, content expertise, and a dedication that often spans a timeframe far longer than originally anticipated. As we enter the third year of a...

BY: Chris Neitzey      12/18/18

What does the Trump administration’s 5-Year STEM Education Strategy mean for afterschool?

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine On December 4, the White House released their five-year STEM education plan, entitled Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education. The plan is a required component of the America COMPETES Act of 2010, which mandates that the...

BY: Chris Neitzey      12/07/18

Afterschool goes to college

After celebrating an updated law in Career and Technical Education (CTE) in July, it’s natural to ask “What’s next?” in the education landscape for Congress. One thing on the agenda is the Higher Education Act, or HEA, which governs federal investments in making quality...

BY: Jillian Luchner      10/09/18