Monday, February 7, 2022

Addressing the Afterschool Worker Shortage: Keeping Equity in Mind

by Sam Piha

The emergency triggered by COVID-19 lays bare the structural failures of a nation where the most vulnerable continue to be the worst hit. To realize the promise of equity, every policy and investment must provide significant, sustained support to the people hurting most; and serve as a bridge to creating an equitable economy…”

Turning an equity lens on the recovery of afterschool is critical in order to not recreate past equity issues. According to California Afterschool Network (CAN), “Communities of color and low-income communities––the very same communities that make-up a large percentage of the expanded learning workforce––are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.”

These same communities now have disproportionately less access to afterschool programs than before. Recent studies reveal that:

  • low-income students are far less likely to have access to afterschool programs in person this fall, compared with children and youths from higher-income families.
  • 45% of providers serving mostly high-income families report plans to provide fall in-person services, compared with only 15% of providers serving mostly low-income families.
  • The disparities across income levels to in-person after-school program access reflect trends showing that race is a strong predictor of access to in-person schooling, with predominantly white schools being more likely to offer in-person or hybrid schooling options rather than being fully online.

As programs respond to the crisis by shrinking their footprint, Felicia Young, Senior Manager of Education, Training and Program Development at the Metro United Way in Louisville, KY, notes that site closures have been concentrated in marginalized neighborhoods of Louisville, creating significant barriers for the communities that need them most.” Desiree Morales

The California Afterschool Network (CAN) formed a Workforce Strategy Committee which developed recommendations and resources (such as Considerations for an Equitable Recovery for the Expanded Learning Workforce) to assist afterschool programs to make changes, taking equity into account. It is recommended that the reader references their website. 

Source: Seattle Times

These are some program tools that leaders can use to ensure that their programs do not advance inequities. 

  • Equity Screen Tool: A statewide committee of out-of-school time stakeholders, convened by the California Afterschool Network, develop a tool that agencies can use to ensure that recovery decisions, policies, and strategies best meet the needs of employees most negatively impacted by COVID-19.
  • AWAKE to WOKE to WORK: Building a Race Equity Culture: This tool was developed by Equity in the Center to provide evidence-based guidance for leaders working to advance race equity in their organizations.

Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation will be conducting a webinar featuring a presentation by Stu Semigran and his team from the EduCare Foundation on Heartset® for Self-Care and Resiliency on Wednesday, February 23, 2022 from 10:00am - 11:30am (PST). To learn more and register, click HERE.

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