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Supporting our Youth throughout COVID-19 and Beyond: Hill Briefing recap

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Supporting our Youth throughout COVID-19 and Beyond: Hill Briefing recap

On September 23, the Afterschool Alliance hosted a virtual Hill briefing, Supporting our Youth throughout COVID-19 and Beyond: Why Afterschool Providers are More Essential than Ever, that focused on the important role afterschool providers play during these unprecedented times. The brief featured panelists from three different fields—education, health, and business—to discuss how these partnerships help programs in continuing to support youth and their families. The briefing was held in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in coordination with the House Afterschool Caucus.

Julie Teer, Chief Development and Public Affairs Officer at the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, opened the brief and introduced Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey, a champion of afterschool who has continuously fought to increase funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to support local before school, afterschool, and summer learning programs. In honor of her dedication to the cause, the program was recently renamed the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Congresswoman Lowey emphasized the importance of afterschool, especially now more than ever.

She said, “It’s no secret that what children do out of school can have as great an impact as what they do in school. That understanding has taken on a whole new meaning in the face of COVID-19.”

She highlighted that afterschool providers have risen during the pandemic to meet the needs of youth and their families, providing meals, staying open for essential workers, and transitioning almost overnight to provide online distance learning to youth.

Our own Jodi Grant served as the facilitator of the briefing. She echoed the sentiments made by Congresswoman Lowey— we need afterschool programs now more than ever. Jodi illustrated the work that 21st CCLC programs have done, both before and during COVID-19. Before COVID-19, 21st CCLC programs served 1.7 million youth in 10,249 school based and community centers throughout the country, helping students improve academically and behaviorally, and foster key social and emotional skills. During COVID-19, 21st CCLC programs continued to serve their communities, through staying connected to youth, serving or delivering meals, and connecting families with community resources.

Dr. Flint Fowler, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis, spoke about the Clubs’ response to the pandemic, noting that they immediately focused on preparing to safely host kids on site as the parents they serve were desperate for safe places to send their children while they were at work. At the Club, they knew they had a responsibility to continue to serve youth. Throughout the summer they hosted day camps, stayed connected to youth online, and made weekly wellness calls to families. Because of the CARES Act financial support, they were able to retain 100% of their staff and continue to serve students throughout the entirety of the pandemic. Safety has been central to their programming from the beginning, and every staff member has gone through extensive training and utilizes their Safe Club Playbook.

Dr. Crystal Gale, network superintendent at the St. Louis Public Schools, highlighted the positive impact of partnering with the Boys and Girls Club, and the benefits the Club has provided for her students. This has continued to be true during COVID-19. With schools shut down in St. Louis and high school students left out of the instructional support centers set up by the district, the Boys and Girls Club played an essential role in supporting their students, providing a safe space to learn, and enabling access the technology needed to complete their schoolwork.

“The students in our communities need the club… for our students, the clubs are a place where kids go because people believe in them,” Dr. Gale said. “They are specifically designed for them with engaging activities, developed to help them discover their own potential and be great. Who wouldn’t want to go to a place like that?”

DavidShore, senior scientist at Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc., contributed the health and safety perspective, discussing how programs can operate safely using Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs). A layered approach that ranges from programs being cancelled to individuals wearing face coverings, NPIs can significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading to students and staff members. He emphasized that NPIs are truly a partnership of all stakeholders. It needs to start before kids enter the program, and continue when kids and staff members go home at the end of the day, or else there is risk of bringing something into the program. Mr. Shore highlighted that one of the most critical components is following the cohort strategy and keeping groups small to allow for contact tracing. In addition, measures such as moving programs outdoors, limiting contact activities, and avoiding self-serve food options will also help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Overall, Mr. Shore emphasized that NPIs work and by following the guidelines set forth in the ACA Field Guide for 2020 Summer Camps and the EH&E Field Guide, programs can safely serve students.

Casey Cortese, managing director at Schwab Community Services and the Charles Schwab Foundation, highlighted their work with the Boys and Girls Club and the critical role that out of school time programs play in supporting businesses. She noted that afterschool programs offer a unique environment to develop workforce skills such as critical thinking, communication and collaboration, and are absolutely necessary to continue to ensure that we have a skilled workforce. During COVID-19 and with families’ changing work lives, afterschool programs are important now more than ever. Parents need places to send their kids while they are at work, and students need to develop skills that they are unable to while participating solely in online learning. Casey notes that this work cannot be done alone.  

“It is going to take strong collaboration between community organizations, government, and private industry to prepare young people for robust and vibrant careers,” she said. “We must unify in our vision and with our active support to create equity of opportunity for all of America’s children.”

Jodi Grant left some final remarks, emphasizing once more the importance of afterschool and asking for a one-time $1.35 billion increase in 21st CCLC.

“Right now in order to serve kids the way we’re serving them all day long, programs are doing this at a great expense. They need more staff, they need more time, they need more training, they need more PPE, and often they need more space.” Jodi continued that a one-time increase “will go a long way in helping us meet the needs of the kids.”

A brief Q&A session concluded the briefing, with all the panelists providing insights on what policy makers can do right now to help meet student and community needs.

The full briefing can be viewed here.

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BY: Erik Peterson      07/09/21

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Historically the month of August is a slow one in Washington, D.C., with Congress taking off for a summer break. While the House and Senate are now in a recess for a several weeks, that break did not come before a frenzy of legislative work that is worthy of a recap. In late July, before...

BY: Erik Peterson      08/16/21

ARP Webinar Series Recap: How to access ARP funds for afterschool and summer

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BY: Maria Rizo      07/26/21

Virtual Hill Briefing recap: Helping Students Recover and Accelerating Success

On July 20, the House Afterschool Caucus in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance hosted a Capitol Hill Briefing Helping Students Recover and Accelerating Success for congressional staff and afterschool stakeholders. With a proven track record for increasing resilience, supporting positive...

BY: Maria Rizo      07/22/21

U.S. House Subcommittee proposes $100 million increase to 21st CCLC as FY2022 Appropriations process continues

This week the House of Representatives continues the FY 2022 appropriations process with multiple subcommittee mark-ups. On July 12 the House of Representatives’ Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS-ED) and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up its FY 2022...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/12/21

American Rescue Plan ESSER III afterschool and summer implementation update: States efforts, new tools, and more

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BY: Erik Peterson      06/01/21

Biden administration releases full FY 2022 budget proposal, increases afterschool funding

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BY: Erik Peterson      05/28/21

Bipartisan, bicameral Youth Workforce Readiness Act of 2021 introduced

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BY: Erik Peterson      05/24/21

The Biden administration’s American Family Plan – what it means for afterschool

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BY: Erik Peterson      05/07/21

Bipartisan CORPS Act re-introduced in Senate

Last week, a bi-partisan group of senators, led by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) introduced legislation to strengthen national service opportunities, particularly in responding to COVID-19. The Cultivating Opportunity and Response to the Pandemic through Service...

BY: Erik Peterson      04/23/21

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This week Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) released the nine remaining fiscal year FY 2022 appropriations bills that the Senate has not yet addressed, including the FY 2022 Labor-HHS-Education bill.  The bills are partisan in nature, and the Committee is unlikely...

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Historically the month of August is a slow one in Washington, D.C., with Congress taking off for a summer break. While the House and Senate are now in a recess for a several weeks, that break did not come before a frenzy of legislative work that is worthy of a recap. In late July, before...

BY: Erik Peterson      08/16/21

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This week the House of Representatives continues the FY 2022 appropriations process with multiple subcommittee mark-ups. On July 12 the House of Representatives’ Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS-ED) and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up its FY 2022...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/12/21

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On May 28, the Biden administration released its full FY 2022 discretionary budget request, about six weeks after releasing an initial budget blueprint. With regard to education, the proposal includes $1.31 billion for the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, an increase of $52...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/28/21

President Biden offers FY 2022 budget proposal

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BY: Erik Peterson      04/13/21

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BY: Erik Peterson      04/12/21

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BY: Erik Peterson      03/06/21

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BY: Erik Peterson      12/22/20

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BY: Erik Peterson      12/16/20

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BY: Jillian Luchner      11/12/20

State child care stabilization grants open with many afterschool programs eligible

As the afterschool field continues to navigate the American Rescue Plan (ARP) opportunities for K-12 funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER) at the state and local level, ARP also designated $24 billion in child care funding to states to help stabilize the...

BY: Jillian Luchner      11/18/21

ARP ESSER state plans are in! More funds are hitting the ground at the state and local level

With the 2021-2022 school year in full-swing, the federal American Rescue Plan relief funds are making important impacts in states and communities. At this point, all 50 states have submitted their Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) plans. The Department of Education is...

BY: Jillian Luchner      11/11/21

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As summer officially turned to fall this month, almost all states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have now submitted their proposed state plans for the use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) Funds to the US Department of Education, and...

BY: Erik Peterson      10/01/21

New learning loss recovery guidance and survey data suggest strong role for afterschool

Last week, as students across the country continued to return to in-person learning, new survey data released from AASA – The School Superintendents Association, as well as additional guidance on learning loss recovery from the US Department of Education, suggests there is more work to be...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/09/21

Virtual Hill Briefing recap: Helping Students Recover and Accelerating Success

On July 20, the House Afterschool Caucus in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance hosted a Capitol Hill Briefing Helping Students Recover and Accelerating Success for congressional staff and afterschool stakeholders. With a proven track record for increasing resilience, supporting positive...

BY: Maria Rizo      07/22/21

Approaches to supporting afterschool and summer in state plans for education relief spending (Part 2)

An advantage of a country made of states, territories, and tribal lands is the amount of innovation across boundaries that can help us learn from one another. This blog is the second in a series on the state American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER)...

BY: Jillian Luchner      07/16/21

State ARP plans: Supporting afterschool and summer enrichment (Part 1)

It has been more than one month since state education agencies were asked to submit their proposed state plans for the use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) Funds to the US Department of Education. To date, the Department has posted state...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/09/21

Draft Child Care Plans for 2022-24 boast strong examples of school-age policy

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BY: Jillian Luchner      07/01/21

Child Care Stabilization Grant Program guidance offers many school-age opportunities

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BY: Jillian Luchner      05/27/21

Largest influx of Child Care Development funds in history available for school-age care

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BY: Jillian Luchner      03/24/21

What could the Build Back Better Act mean for afterschool and summer learning?

This week the House of Representatives finished work at the Committee level on the Build Back Better Act legislation that invests in programs that support human infrastructure and includes parts of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. The bill is progressing on...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/17/21

Appropriations, budget resolutions, and infrastructure—oh my!

Historically the month of August is a slow one in Washington, D.C., with Congress taking off for a summer break. While the House and Senate are now in a recess for a several weeks, that break did not come before a frenzy of legislative work that is worthy of a recap. In late July, before...

BY: Erik Peterson      08/16/21

American Rescue Plan ESSER III afterschool and summer implementation update: States efforts, new tools, and more

Since President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law on March 11, 2021, state education agencies (SEAs) have been working to maximize the impact of the $122 billion in federal education funds to support students impacted by the pandemic.  While SEAs have until June 7, 2021, to...

BY: Erik Peterson      06/01/21

Biden administration releases full FY 2022 budget proposal, increases afterschool funding

On May 28, the Biden administration released its full FY 2022 discretionary budget request, about six weeks after releasing an initial budget blueprint. With regard to education, the proposal includes $1.31 billion for the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, an increase of $52...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/28/21

The Biden administration’s American Family Plan – what it means for afterschool

In late April, President Joe Biden released the American Families Plan, the second part of an overall infrastructure proposal and a complementary piece to the American Jobs Plan. Congress is now holding bipartisan conversations to identify infrastructure priorities. The American Families...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/07/21

President Biden offers FY 2022 budget proposal

On April 9, the Biden administration released their preliminary (or “skinny”) FY 2022 discretionary budget request which includes topline appropriations levels for each agency as well as key spending priorities. With regard to education, the proposal includes historic funding requests...

BY: Erik Peterson      04/13/21

Biden administration proposes infrastructure plan including funds for schools, child care

In late March the administration announced the first part of its Build Back Better infrastructure plan. Called the American Jobs Plan, it would invest more than $200 billion in education and education-related infrastructure, including $100 billion for school construction and modernization, $12...

BY: Erik Peterson      04/12/21

American Rescue Plan: How will the funds flow? What do I need to do?

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BY: Erik Peterson      03/12/21

President Biden proposes American Rescue Plan including education funding

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BY: Erik Peterson      01/20/21

President-elect Biden nominates Connecticut Education Commissioner Cardona for Sec. of Education

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BY: Erik Peterson      12/23/20