Guest post by Jennifer Rinehart
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to hundreds of after-school providers, funders, and advocates about the new America After 3PM data—research that shows more kids than ever are in after-school programs, but that the unmet demand for programs is also at its highest ever. Each time I talk to folks about the 2014 findings, a new aspect of America After 3PM grabs my attention. For instance, the finding that for every one child in an after-school program now, two more would be enrolled if programs were available. Or the findings that show that low-income and minority youth are more likely to be in after-school programs and are also more likely to enroll if more programs were available.
America After 3PM also has city-specific data for three urban communities—Washington D.C, New York City and Pittsburgh/Allegheny County, PA. Aside from all being on the east coast, these three communities are quite different in many respects—size, both in terms of population and square miles; industry and workforce; numbers and ethnicity of school-age children, and more.
But, America After 3PM reveals a commonality that unites them all. Each of these urban communities is providing after-school opportunities for a high percentage of students and parents are very satisfied with the programs their children attend. Below are just a few highlights from across the three communities:
- Participation in after-school programs– 28% in Allegheny County, 28% in New York City, and 35% in the District of Columbia compared to the national average of 18%
- Satisfaction with after-school programs– 92% in Allegheny County, 91% in New York City, and 97% in the District of Columbia
- Support for public funding for after-school programs– 86% in Allegheny County, 89% in New York City, and 93% in the District of Columbia
The systems-building work taking place in these three communities plays a big role in their after-school success stories. In each city, after-school providers, funders, city/county leaders, and advocates have come together to analyze gaps in programming, improve the quality of programs, inform public officials about the critical role of after-school, and help shape public opinion of after-school programs. The data in America After 3PM suggest that cities that build smart and sustainable expanded-learning systems can expand participation and ensure that more children benefit from high-quality engaging learning experiences.
Jennifer Rinehart is Vice President for Policy and Research at the Afterschool Alliance.