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Why After School and Summer Learning Programs are Essential

posted Nov 10, 2015, 8:45 AM by damon.cawley@ccsuonline.org   [ updated Nov 21, 2015, 7:32 AM ]

In the U.S. today, more than 11 million children - 1 in 5 youth - are on their own unsupervised after school. These children face grave risks. They are also missing out on opportunities to learn and grow. Research shows that after school, summer learning, out-of-school time, and expanded learning programs offer a range of valuable benefits:

1. Inspiring Learners

  • High-quality after school programs can lead to improved attendance, behavior, grades and coursework.[1]
  • After school and summer programs are real solutions linked to closing the academic achievement gap and accelerating learning gains.[2]
  • High-quality expanded learning programs connect youth to their communities and offer them the opportunity to engage with their local neighbors, businesses, and organizations.

2. Helping Working Families

  • After school programs help relieve the stress on working families. In fact, parents miss an average of five days of work per year due to a lack of after school.[3]
  • 81% of Vermont parents agree that after school programs give working parents peace of mind about their children when they are at work.[4] For most families, there is a gap of 15-25 hours per week when parents are still at work and children are out of school and need supervision.

3. Keeping Kids Safe & Healthy

  • On school days, the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for youth to commit crimes, be in or cause an automobile accident, be victims of crimes, smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs.[5]
  • For every $1 spent on quality expanded learning opportunities, Vermont gets back $2.18 in long-term savings from reduced criminal activity and substance abuse treatment, as well as accruing benefits from increased high school graduation rates and work productivity.[6]
  • After school and summer programs are important venues for improving nutrition, providing access to healthy meals and snacks, and promoting physical activity.

4. Supporting Vermont’s Vision for Education

  • Project-based, service learning, and STEM programs cultivate career awareness, build 21st century skills, and support personalized learning plans.
  • After school and summer learning programs are well positioned to provide youth, particularly those who are underserved and underrepresented, with opportunities to be college and career ready.[7]
[1] Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., & Pachan, M. (2010). A Meta-Analysis of After-School Programs that Seek to Promote Personal and Social Skills in Children and Adolescents.
[2] Vandell, D., Reisner, E., and Pierce, K. (2007). Outcomes Linked to High-Quality Afterschool Programs: Longitudinal Findings From the Study of Promising After School Programs.
[3] Catalyst & Brandeis University. (2006). After-school Worries: Tough on Parents, Bad for Business.
[4] Afterschool Alliance. (2014). America After 3PM: Afterschool Programs in Demand.
[5] Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (2006). OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book.
[6] Vermont Afterschool. (2014). Return on Investment Study. Available at http://bit.ly/1zaTHp0.
[7] Brand, A. and Valent, B. (2013). The Potential of Career and College Readiness and Exploration in Afterschool Programs.