A new assessment of states' progress toward offering afterschool programs to all children who need them finds that many states are making some headway, but they have a great deal of work ahead to meet the need for quality programs.
The 2011 State-by-State Afterschool Progress Reports and Consumer Guides is sponsored by J.C. Penney and was compiled by Afterschool Alliance – a nonprofit public awareness organization working to ensure access to and the quality of afterschool programs.
Specifically, each state progress report considers:
The availability of and participation in afterschool programs
Recent state policy activity and funding for afterschool programs
and state-level leadership on afterschool from policy makers
It also includes information for parents on how to find and support afterschool programs in each state.
Interestingly, no state received a 5 on a scale of 1 to 5 in the report. Only nine states received a 4, and Texas, along with 20 other states, earned a 3. 19 states received a 2 and Delaware and Idaho received the lowest rating, a 1.
"Too many children in Texas are unsupervised and at risk after the school day ends, although this progress report offers reason for hope. Texas has put some of the pieces in place to get to afterschool for all children, but lawmakers need to do more to make afterschool programs available," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant.
"Even in tough economic times like these, we need to ensure that our children get the education and support they need to succeed in school and in life. Afterschool programs are a good investment, providing opportunities for engaging, hands-on learning that often aren't available during the regular school day. We urge lawmakers in Texas to remember that afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working families – and make afterschool funding a priority."
Scores for the progress reports were devised using a range of factors falling under three major categories: growth in afterschool participation, developments in state afterschool policy and funding; and advancements in state afterschool leadership.
"As a leading corporate advocate for the afterschool cause, JCPenney is committed to building the resources needed to offer quality afterschool services in every community," said Jodi Gibson, divisional vice president for JCPenney and president of JCPenney afterschool.
The 2011 State-by-State Afterschool Progress Reports and Consumer Guides, is being released in conjunction with Lights On Afterschool this year by the Afterschool Alliance.
"By partnering with the Afterschool Alliance to determine the unique needs of every state, families, educators and policy makers can make informed decisions that willmake afterschool programs available and accessible to those who need it most."
A significant body of research demonstrates that students who attend afterschool programs regularly are more likely to improve their grades, tests scores and overall academic behavior.
Nationwide, more than 15 million school-age children – more than one in four kids in the United States – are unsupervised after the school day ends. The parents of 18 million children say they would enroll their kids in afterschool programs – if programs were available.