Report Validates the Importance of Pennsylvania Afterschool Programs

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 16, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) today said that they agree with findings and recommendations in the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee’s Afterschool Report. In December 2015, the committee directed its staff to conduct an update of a report released in May 2009 on the availability and affordability of afterschool and out-of-school time programs in the commonwealth.

PSAYDN officials said the recommendations in the report promote a needed discussion among key department agencies, the Pennsylvania General Assembly and key stakeholders regarding the importance of afterschool programs, quality initiatives and identifying stable sources of funding.

Since the 2009 report, new legislation has been enacted, both nationally and in various states, to expand the concept of afterschool programs, which are now often referred to as out-of-school time programs. These acts provide for establishing a longer school day or a longer school year, if that extra time is used for student enrichment programs. Although to date few Pennsylvania schools have chosen to implement expanded learning time schedules, other states, such as California, Texas and Vermont have taken steps to encourage and support expanded learning time efforts within their school systems.

“Afterschool and summer programs can add 1,080 hours of academic enrichment to a child’s year, equivalent to the number of hours in 144 school days,” said PSAYDN director Laura Saccente. “The need for high quality afterschool programs in Pennsylvania is significant. PSAYDN knows that kids’ formative, out-of-school hours can be filled with quality youth development programs that inspire learning, keep kids safe and help working families.” 

The study has received bipartisan support in the commonwealth, where 1.4 million school-age children and youth have working parents and many spend, on average, nearly nine hours each week unsupervised. According to the Afterschool Alliance, about 190,000 Pennsylvania children participate in afterschool programs; but an additional 600,000 children would participate if an affordable program was available to them. The report indicates that more than thirty percent of the school districts said additional afterschool opportunities are needed. 

Key findings in the report show that afterschool programs are placing increased emphasis on developing their programs by engaging in activities such as continuous quality improvement, enrichment programs for music and art, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programming. More than two-thirds of the Pennsylvania afterschool programs surveyed offer some type of STEM program. 

The report also found that about 20 states (Pennsylvania is not among them) have budgeted at least some state funding for afterschool programs. 

The report recommends the creation of a working group comprised of representatives from key departments, such as education, human services, labor and industry, and key stakeholders from the afterschool advocate and provider community as well as interested members of the General Assembly. Topics and areas the working group would pursue include identifying stable sources of funding and strategies for finding and retaining afterschool program staff; establishing and maintaining quality program standards. Further recommendations are promoting regional databases of afterschool programs to facilitate parents finding programs; and identifying steps to foster more collaboration and partnerships between afterschool providers and schools, businesses and other untapped community groups. 

“PSAYDN looks forward to supporting the full implementation of the recommendations outlined in the report,” Saccente said. “The recommendations are closely aligned with the network’s core belief that all children and youth deserve access to high quality out-of-school time programs that promote positive youth development and support the successful transition to adulthood.”

Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network is a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable, high-quality out-of-school time youth development programs through advocacy and capacity building to enhance the welfare of Pennsylvania’s children, youth and families. More information about PSAYDN and the LB&FC report are available at www.psaydn.org

Media Inquiries: Aylissa Kiely for PSAYDN 717-903-0219

 

SOURCE Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network

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