With the draft ESEA bill introduced last week by the Senate HELP committee, federal activity has been heating up. On October 20th, thanks to a critical push by Senator Whitehouse (RI), The Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (CBASS) helped influence a few big wins in the legislation.
The legislative changes instituted today are an important first step forward to maintaining support for after-school and summer learning as anchor approaches in the program and ensuring community partners play a lead role in delivering programs, in collaboration with schools.
Here are the wins:
1. No federal preference or priority on which approach (after-school, summer, expanded learning for some kids, expanded learning for all kids) will be used.
2. Support for community partners. Amendment strengthens community partner requirement, with only a narrow exception for particular rural communities for whom the requirement would be a significant hardship.
3. Clarity on who can be fiscal agent. Whitehouse amendment ensures that either the district or nonprofit partner can be the lead fiscal agent.
4. Support for quality programs as well as innovation. New language ensures that effective and innovative approaches to programs can be utilized by grantees.
There are other big pieces we would like to see moving forward, including clarifying the definition of ELT to make sure it’s inclusive of enrichment activities, community partners and is focused on ELT design, not whole school redesign. We look forward to working with you to help improve the legislation even further.
Please join us in thanking Senator Whitehouse for his leadership and commitment to an improved 21st CCLC program!
To follow future developments effecting education and afterschool at the federal and state level, go to: http://www.learninginafterschool.org/developmentsinas.htm
Jennifer Peck was a founding staff member of the Partnership For Children and Youth in 2001 and became its Executive Director in 2003. Jennifer leads a coalition of California organizations advocating for new federal policies to improve the effectiveness of after-school and summer-learning programs. She will also be one of our speakers at the upcoming How Kids Learn Conference in January 2012.
Jessica Donner serves as the Director of the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (CBASS), a partnership of after-school intermediary organizations in eight cities dedicated to increasing the availability of quality afterschool programming.