Despite participation increase, afterschool programs still under-supported nationally
- According to the San Marcos Record and information from the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization for afterschool programs, participation in afterschool programs has increased to more than 10.2 million students across the country. However, there is still a lot of unmet demand: for every child in such a program, two more are still waiting to get in.
- Jodi Grant, the executive director of the Afterschool Alliance, says there is still a significant need for more funding, and despite this, federal investments are actually at risk of being cut. Any additional cuts that occur would mean more children left unsupervised in the hours afterschool before parents are out of work, which creates uncertainty for parents that their children will be safe until they’re able to get home from their jobs.
- Grant encourages citizens to contact their lawmakers and urge them to invest in afterschool programs to ensure children, families and their schools and communities can all reap their numerous benefits.
The positive benefits of afterschool programs are well documented. The hours between 2 and 5 p.m. are when children are most likely to participate in risky behavior, and afterschool programs instead provide them with a supervised, positive outlet for learning, growth and socialization. The programs also offer nutritious snacks and meals to children from low-income families that might not otherwise get them, and allow children to explore interests and sharpen important skills.
While individual schools and districts may be able to invest in these programs to an extent, greater financial support is necessary on a federal level if access to these programs will be able to be expanded to meet the widespread demand that currently exists.
Consider taking a moment to write your representatives in local, state and federal office to encourage them to support greater funding for afterschool programming.