Quality afterschool programs help young people make smart decisions, build healthy relationships with adults and peers, and avoid risky behaviors after the school day ends. Council for a Strong America—a national, bipartisan nonprofit that includes law enforcement leaders, retired admirals and generals, and business executives—identifies afterschool programs as a key policy approach to set the stage for strengthening the nation in their 2022 Blueprint for a Stronger America.
Also, afterschool programs save at least three tax dollars for every one spent by reducing crime costs, improving student’s performance in school, and increasing young people’s earning potential.
A national poll released in January 2023 finds that vast majorities of the public – across gender, race, age, regional and party lines – consider afterschool programs to be important to their communities. There is also strong support for public funding of afterschool and summer learning programs, with two in three adults saying they want their federal, state and local leaders to provide funding for afterschool and summer programs.
The poll was conducted by Lake Research Partners for the Afterschool Alliance in November of 2022.
Afterschool programs help children learn, grow, and realize their full potential. In addition to many compelling personal stories about the benefits of afterschool, dozens of formal studies clearly demonstrate the value of afterschool initiatives. These studies prove that afterschool programs keep kids safe, help working families and improve academic achievement. Some examples:
Unfortunately, adequate care is something not always available in every community. Today, only one-fourth of American families fit the “traditional” image of one parent at home caring for children full time, while the other parent provides financial support. In fact, 75 percent of mothers with school-age children are employed. In all, there are more than 30 million children in a household where both parents are in the workforce.
Additionally, the impact of a lack of adequate care is much broader in scope, not only affecting the children and parents who are in need of afterschool resources. Research has found that parents miss an average of five days of work per year due to a lack of afterschool care, and that decreased worker productivity related to parent’s concerns about their child’s afterschool care costs businesses up to $300 billion per year.
With parents reporting spending close to an average of 9 hours during the weekdays working, the gap between work and school schedules amounts to as much as 25 hours per week. This presents working parents with the challenge of finding someone to care for their children while they are at work. Nationwide, more than 3 million children in grades K-8 regularly care for themselves, and 20 percent of all children go home alone after school each day.
Further, child care can be prohibitively expensive for many working families. According to ChildCare Aware of America's Demanding Change: Repairing Our Childcare System, center-based child care for a single child can cost 10 percent of a married couples' total income—or a shocking 35 percent of total household income for single-parent families. The average annual cost of care for school-aged children can total more than $10,000.
The realities of today’s working world make afterschool programs an absolute necessity. Ninety-one percent of parents with a child in an afterschool program agree that afterschool programs help give working parents peace of mind about their children when they are at work and that afterschool programs help working parents keep their jobs (86 percent). Additionally, 89 percent of working parents agree that the experience of the coronavirus pandemic made them appreciate school teachers and afterschool providers more than ever before.