WASHINGTON, DC — The vast majority of parents — 84 percent — support public funding of after-school programs, said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant at a briefing hosted by the Senate Afterschool Caucus today.
Approximately 11.3 million kids are unsupervised in the hours after school, a time when juvenile crime peaks, she said.
The figures come from a report by the alliance, America After 3 PM, which surveyed households across the nation.
However, legislation in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives could cut the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, a Department of Education program that provides major funding for after-school and summer learning programs across the nation.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee will be looking at language in the Senate bill in coming weeks.
After-school programs keep kids safe, Grant said. Eighty-three percent of parents with a kid enrolled in a program say it lowers the risk of kids committing crimes, using drugs or becoming a teen parent, according to the America After 3 P.M. survey.
Currently, demand for out-of-school-time programs outstrips supply, she said. While 10.2 million children are in after-school programs, twice as many are waiting to get in, she said. The demand is much higher among low-income households, she said.
Parents say after-school programs help them keep their jobs, Grant said.
John Fischer, deputy secretary of education in the Vermont Agency of Education, also spoke at the briefing. He said Vermont was among the top ten states in providing after-school programs.
The majority are located in public schools, and 88 percent have community partners who also provide funding.
He said 121 of these expanded learning programs in Vermont are funded through 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants.
Expanded learning opportunities help keep children safe, inspire learning, help working families and support Vermont’s vision for education, he said.
21st Century Community Learning Centers provided $1.1 billion to support more than 11,000 after-school programs last year.
Both houses of Congress are seeking to reauthorize a major education bill, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and current versions would chop out the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.