Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What Does ESSA Mean For Expanded Learning?

By Guest Blogger, Jennifer Peck, Executive Director at the Partnership for Children and Youth

Jennifer Peck
We at the Partnership for Children & Youth are very pleased that Congress and the President reached agreement to move past the era of No Child Left Behind, and approve the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) last month. We are particularly pleased that the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program has remained a focused funding stream for expanded learning programs, and has received a small funding increase. This program certainly needs to grow to meet the enormous demand, and this is an important step in the right direction.

In addition to the funding news, there are several policy changes to the 21st CCLC program that California will have to implement in Federal Fiscal Year 2017, one of the most significant being new flexibility for 21st CCLC funds to be used to support longer school days. Under this new provision, the law makes clear that the funds cannot supplant regular school day activities, that students receive at least 300 hours of additional program hours beyond the regular school day, and that the additional time be carried out with one or more partner entities.  

We are still analyzing all the changes to 21st CCLC, including some adjustments to how grants are prioritized, which students should be prioritized for enrollment, and potential resources available for technical assistance. We will post more updates as we gather information and clarify the new law’s intent for the various changes. We will also be closely communicating with the California Department of Education as we digest these changes and work collaboratively with our partners and the state to implement new provisions of the law so that we maintain our strong focus on community partnerships and program quality.  

Please see our recent ESSA Huffington Post blog co-authored with Every Hour Counts, which represents expanded learning intermediaries around the country, and stay tuned for more information in the coming months.

Thank you to all of you who took the time in recent months to communicate with Congress about the importance of maintaining the 21st CCLC program, which is a critical resource for children and families across the state of California.

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