Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Emerging Issues Impacting Afterschool

By Sam Piha

There are many emerging issues that impact afterschool programs as well as a wealth of articles that focus on them. How do we keep up on reading about issues that you are interested in? Below are some articles and resources arranged by topic. We invite you to click on those that are most relevant to your program. 

YOUTH WHO EXPERIENCE HOUSING INSTABILITY: Housing instability is linked to chronic absenteeism, lower graduation rates, and higher suspension rates among students. Affected students were also disproportionately Latinx, Black, and English language learners.

DECLINING SCHOOL ENROLLMENT: “Kids miss school every day and always have—often for good reasons. But school leaders around the country say they’re struggling with a wave of chronic absenteeism that’s worsened over the course of the pandemic.” 

There are lots of factors, ranging from COVID-specific illness and family disruption to students who have just fallen out of the habit of regular attendance. And while current statistics are scarce, educators say the empty seats don’t make it any easier to get schools back to normal.” – Mark Bomster, Ed Week

YOUTH AND GRIEF: There is a growing awareness of the importance of emotional regulation, social emotional learning, trauma informed practice and healing centered engagement. However, it is important that we understand more about the needs of youth who are grieving or experiencing loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic (deaths and illness, as well as the loss of “normal”), the opioid crisis, the rising gun violence and the racial violence that is plaguing the country.

Source: Ed Week

THE NEEDS OF BOYS: There's an emerging trend in afterschool to focus on the needs of boys, especially boys of color and those from low-income communities.

COVID AND THE MENTAL HEALTH OF CHILDREN AND TEENS: In our work with young people, it is important that we think about the many ways they may have been impacted by COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) can affect adolescents directly and indirectly. Beyond getting sick, many adolescents’ social, emotional and mental well-being has been impacted by the pandemic. Trauma faced at this developmental stage may have long-term consequences across their lifespan."

From the very first waves of school closures and lockdowns in 2020, the pandemic significantly damaged children’s mental health in ways teachers are still coping with and researchers are still struggling to understand.” – Sarah D. Sparks, Ed Week

Source: Ed Week

AFTERSCHOOL WORKER SHORTAGE: Recruiting, hiring, and retaining afterschool workers have been longstanding issues. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit—and these issues were greatly exacerbated. They had resulted in programs closing, drastically reducing capacity, and adding stress to afterschool workers. Many of these challenges are not unique to the afterschool field- they are being experienced by those in education and a wide range of fields. We know that the issue of staff shortages is not new to veteran afterschool program leaders. However, we felt it is important to summarize what we know in the time of COVID-19.

The most pressing problem facing afterschool is the nationwide shortage of workers.
– Michael Funk, Director of CDE Expanded Learning Division

YOUTH INVOLVEMENT IN CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: According to the Afterschool Alliance, “The afterschool field is an essential partner in ensuring that all children have the ability to participate in immersive, relevant, and hands-on civic engagement opportunities.” Not only are civic engagement strategies participatory strategies, they contribute to the positive development of youth and the health of our democracy. 

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