Monday, February 6, 2017

A Growing Threat to Quality Expanded Learning Programs

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
In early January, we reached out to expanded learning leaders to ask what they viewed as challenges facing the field in 2017. We posted their responses in our blog on January 9, 2017. Many, especially those from California, responded that program quality and even the existence of programs were threatened by stagnant funding levels. 

The recent calls for increased program quality assumes that programs have resources for staff development and training. We have heard from many program leaders, and they seem to agree with Bill Fennessy from THINK Together, who said: 

“With the increases in minimum wage and the accompanying 'exempt employee' wage minimums there will clearly be only enough money to afford the required student supervision ratios. This means that Site Coordinator hours will probably have to be almost cut to just programming hours, that the next level of support for Site Coordinators and time needed for training and/or professional development will become unaffordable. 

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The loss of these critically important supports for Expanded Learning programs and their staff will definitely have a severely negative impact on program quality and therefore effectiveness. This issue could in fact cause a collapse of Expanded Learning in California as we know it today.”

There is currently an effort by California State Senator Connie Leyva and afterschool advocates to increase the funding levels for the California ASES program. To ensure that this effort does not fail, as it did last year, we urge people to visit the Save Afterschool website to learn more about getting involved. 

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