For Elected Officials
Afterschool offers a range of benefits to children and youth and their families. Without afterschool and other expanded learning opportunities to occupy and improve students after the school day ends, society takes on more of a burden than with those opportunities. A struggling student is not the sole bearer of the cost of academic difficulty—society at large pays a great price, too. Remedial education, absenteeism, grade repetition, drop-outs, crime, drug use, teen pregnancy and income lost are just a few of the costs taxpayers bear when a young person does not succeed in school, and these costs start tallying when school begins and last for a lifetime.
For years, policy makers, program directors, and parents have attested to the widespread benefits of afterschool programs. Fortunately, a wide variety of research ranging from quantitative studies and polls to qualitative reports and field observations has corroborated the need for afterschool enrichment. As the field grows and resources thin out – especially given the economic recession and subsequent budget cuts – it is increasingly important to secure afterschool’s place as a necessity for youth. Promoting quality in the field of afterschool, which includes before school and summer learning programs, is one way to ensure researchers continue to find positive outcomes that can help policy makers increase investments in this valuable resource to children and parents. (See the issue brief from the Afterschool Alliance: Quality Afterschool: Helping Programs Achieve It and Policies Support It, 2011)
Every dollar invested in afterschool programs will save taxpayers approximately $3!
How Elected Officials and Policy Makers can support Afterschool
- Convene a group of afterschool stakeholders to conduct a community-wide plan for youth engagement in your community. Consider using the National League of Cities self-assessment tool and ensure cross-sector representation from the school, health, faith, business and juvenile justice communities.
- Conduct a site visit of an area afterschool program and discuss ways we can support each other in our hopes for children and youth.
- Attend an event or prepare a proclamation for Lights On Afterschool, a national awareness day for afterschool held this year on October 20, 2016.
- Attend an event or prepare a proclamation for National Summer Learning Day, held this year on July 14, 2016.
- Encourage state and national elected official peers to support afterschool and summer programs.
- Work to build or expand a local or state funding stream for afterschool and summer programs in the community.
- Film a PSA for a local television station or write an op-editorial in the local paper to share more about afterschool programs and how children, youth, and families benefit from high quality programs.
- Talk to a local business about providing mentors, volunteers, or in-kind/financial support.
- Other ideas? Let us know how you are supporting expanded learning opportunities, like afterschool!
Resources & Tools
There are a number of resources and tools you can look into for more information on supporting afterschool and other expanded learning opportunities.
KS/MO Municipal Summit on Afterschool & Summer Learning
On June 4, 2016, the Missouri AfterSchool Network and Kansas Enrichment Network hosted a Municipal Summit on Afterschool & Summer Learning. Click here to view a video from the Local Investment Commission about the summit. Or click here to visit the summit event website.
National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education & Families
The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute), a special entity within the National League of Cities (NLC), helps municipal leaders take action on behalf of the children, youth, and families in their communities. NLC launched the YEF Institute in January 2000 in recognition of the unique and influential roles that mayors, city council members, and other local leaders can play in strengthening families and improving outcomes for children and youth.
See specifically the report: Municipal Leadership for Afterschool: Citywide Approaches Spreading Across the Country
The Wallace Foundation is a big supporter of afterschool programs. Millions of city children and teens lack access to out-of-school time programs that provide rich opportunities for growth, learning and fun. One possible solution – coordinating the work of government agencies, private funders, programs and others involved in after-school programs – is being pioneered by a group of Wallace-supported city efforts. Visit the Wallace Foundation website to learn more about their research and strategy for tackling problems.
MASN hosts quarterly Afterschool Committee meetings where everyone (including youth!) can come together to work on issues related to Professional Development, Public Policy, Funding & Sustainability, Quality, and STEM.
Click here for the current list of Afterschool Committee Meeting dates and times.