Unmet Demand for Afterschool Programs Approaches 20 Million Children

jodi-grant.jpg22by Jodi Grant, Executive Director of Afterschool Alliance
Originally published on Afterschool Snack. View the original post here

aa3_social_graphic(1)For every child enrolled in an afterschool program, two more would enroll if they could, according to parents. That’s among the findings from our new survey, the 2014 edition of America After 3PM spanning 30,000 American households.

In all, 10.2 million children are in afterschool programs, up from 6.5 million in 2004. But the unmet demand for afterschool—parents who want to enroll their child in a program but say they don’t have a program available—has increased over the last decade as well, with the parents of a projected 19.4 million children now saying they would enroll their child in a program if one were available to them. Demand is especially high among low-income, African-American and Hispanic families.

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, founder of After-School All-Stars, spoke with reporters about the data and commented:

“Due to the fact that most students come from homes where both parents are working, we have a duty to provide safe havens for our children during the crucial hours from 3-6 pm. Afterschool programs do remarkable things for our children, families and communities. Reams of data show it, and I’ve seen it in my own work. These programs help kids with homework, teach them teamwork, engage them in community service, pair them with mentors, help them to be physically fit, involve them in activities like rocketry and robotics, and much more.”

“Afterschool is a wise investment but, unfortunately, we’re not investing nearly enough,” Schwarzenegger added. “America After 3 PM shows that we are meeting only about one-third of the demand for afterschool programs. We need federal, state and local governments, philanthropies, and businesses to step up and provide the resources that will put us on the path to making afterschool available to all.”

Highlights from the new survey:

  • Despite increased participation in afterschool, the number of children unsupervised in the hours after school remains high. Across the nation, more than 800,000 elementary students and 2.2 million middle school students spend time alone and unsupervised during the after school hours. In all, 11.3 million school age children—1 in 5—are unsupervised in the afternoons.
  • Parental satisfaction with afterschool remains high. Nine in 10 parents (89 percent) say they are satisfied with their child’s program.
  • Parents value programs for many reasons, including safety, opportunities for physical activity, academic support and more. More than 5 in 6 parents of children in afterschool programs (84 percent) agree that programs “keep kids safe and out of trouble”—a seven-point increase from 2009. Sixty-eight percent of parents cite opportunities for physical activity as very important, and 62 percent think it is very important for afterschool programs to offer learning activities that are unavailable during the regular school day.
  • Afterschool programs offer a range of opportunities. Four in 5 parents (80 percent) say their child’s afterschool program offers opportunities for physical activity, 72 percent say their child has opportunities for reading or writing, and 69 percent say their afterschool program offers a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) learning opportunity.
  • Afterschool programs help working parents keep their jobs. More than 8 in 10 parents of children in afterschool programs (83 percent) agree that afterschool programs help working parents keep working. Overall, 3 in 4 parents agree that afterschool programs help give working parents peace of mind about their children when they are at work, and among parents with children in afterschool, agreement jumps to 85 percent.
  • Support for public funding of afterschool programs remains strong. More than 4 in 5 parents (84 percent) report that they favor public funding for afterschool opportunities in communities that have few opportunities for children and youth. Ninety-one percent of parents who identify as Democrats, 86 percent who identify as Independents and 80 percent who identify as Republicans favor public funding for afterschool programs. Support crosses all geographic lines.
  • Participation in afterschool programs spans income levels, ethnicity and gender. The data show that 49 percent of afterschool participants are girls and 51 percent are boys; 71 percent are white, 15 percent are African-American, 11 percent are Hispanic, 8 percent are Asian American, 2 percent are Native American. Forty-five percent of afterschool participants are from low-income families. Twenty percent of households that qualify for the Federal Free or Reduced Price Lunch Program have a child in an afterschool program.
  • Demand is greatest among African-American, Hispanic and low-income families. Both participation in and unmet demand for afterschool programs are much higher among children from low-income households compared to higher-income households, and higher among African-American and Hispanic children than white children. The parents of 60 percent of the nation’s African-American children would enroll their child in a program if one were available, as would the parents of 57 percent of Latino children. The same is true of 35 percent of white children.

Go to http://afterschoolalliance.org/AA3PM/ to view additional insights into which children—by race, ethnicity, gender and income—are participating in afterschool programs and which are not, the types of activities afterschool programs offer, barriers to participation, parental satisfaction with program quality, and state-by-state results.

Findings from America After 3PM are based on in-depth interviews with 13,709 households with children, completed by way of an online survey using a blend of national consumer panels. Shugoll Research collected and analyzed the data for America After 3PM.

America After 3PM is funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Noyce Foundation, with additional support from the Heinz Endowments, The Robert Bowne Foundation and the Samueli Foundation.

Afterschool Alliance is a member of the National Human Services Assembly


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