Friday, April 15, 2016

Save Quality Afterschool

By Sam Piha
Sam Piha
There are calls for improving the quality of afterschool programs. The California Department of Education has issued new quality standards and there are numerous toolkits to assist afterschool programs. In response to this call, we have assembled a number of program improvement learning circles. 

The number one barrier to program improvement is financial resources. It takes time on the part of the afterschool staff to seriously work to improve practice and program quality. And between the stagnant funding levels and the rise in labor costs, afterschool budgets are simply too stressed to take on the challenge of program improvement. 

Photo Credit: www.saveafterschool.com

In an article entitled "Some After-School Program Providers Say Flat Funding May Cause Them to Close", written by Susan Frey for EdSource, she wrote:

A survey of after-school program providers found that 29 percent of respondents – including large programs such as LA’s BEST and THINKTogether – say they are likely to close in the next two years without an increase in the daily reimbursement rate from the state.
More than 86 percent of providers said they were having trouble hiring quality staff, and two-thirds said their programs had a waiting list, according to the survey by the Oakland-based advocacy group Partnership for Children & Youth
Each year, more than 400,000 students in over 4,000 elementary and middle schools participate in these programs, which are located primarily in high-poverty neighborhoods. The programs offer tutoring, sports and enrichment activities such as arts and science projects. They also provide a safe place for elementary and middle school children while their parents are working.
The daily reimbursement rate of $7.50 per student for three hours of programming has not changed since the After School Education and Safety Act was passed 10 years ago. The law provides $550 million each year for the programs, but does not include a cost-of-living adjustment.
Meanwhile, since 2007 the Consumer Price Index has increased by about 19 percent, the state minimum wage has grown by 33 percent and state law now requires employers to offer three days of annual sick leave.
There are a number of afterschool advocates that are working to raise the funding levels of state ASES programs. You can learn more and choose to get involved by going to http://www.saveafterschool.com/

Photo Credit: www.saveafterschool.com

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