Governor Jerry Brown and the State Legislature must act now to support after school programs or risk dismantling an infrastructure built over two decades.
In the next few weeks, California’s State Legislature and Governor will make decisions on current legislative budget issues – after school being one of them – that will have an impact on hundreds of thousands of residents. The California After School Alliance (CA3) wants them to know that more than 400,000 children and their working families, after school providers and their employees – many of whom live in and come from the communities that they serve – are counting on them to do the right thing by prioritizing After School Education and Safety (ASES) programs.
ASES programs operate at schools where more than 80% of the students qualify for the Free and Reduced Price Meals (FRPM) program. They provide quality, academically enriching and engaging after school activities in a safe setting. They offer essential learning opportunities for English Language Learners (ELLs) and communities of color. More importantly, they work to close the achievement gap by providing low-income students up to 115 additional days of learning. ASES programs also help working parents who rely on after school activities to keep their children safe, so that they can work longer hours to support their families.
Despite the need, for nearly a decade, ASES programs have operated within a flat daily rate of $7.50 per student with no adjustment for the cost of living, while the California Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased by 19%, the state minimum wage has increased by 33% (at $10 per hour and is expected to increase to $15 within the next five years), and state law now requires employers to offer 3 days of annual sick leave. Under the current financing structure, after school programs will have to operate with annual deficits of $10,000 — $15,000 or more per site, which they cannot afford to do. To put this into perspective, it is important to point out that after school enrichment programs, which offer homework assistance, sports, dance, art, STEM, nutrition, and more, are operating at a rate of $7.50, while today, babysitters charge $15 per hour.
This is why we urge the Budget Conference Committee to adopt both the Assembly and Senate versions of the After School Education and Safety (ASES) program item. The Assembly approved an augmentation to the program of $73 million and the Senate approved an ongoing cost of living adjustment for ASES. If no action is taken by the Legislature and Governor this year, nearly half a million low-income youth in California will be affected, and as early as next year 50,000 could lose access to these programs. As a result, California could see more dropouts, higher crime, and at-risk students being left behind.
Over the past two decades, California rose as a national leader in providing safe, educational opportunities for students after school. With this funding crisis, we are rapidly sliding backwards in our commitment to ensure equitable educational support for students in this state. These programs are critical to the success of all of our efforts in California – implementing new standards, supporting English Language Learners, and engaging families. The state needs to step up and do the right thing by making a modest investment to save our after school programs.
For more information about the Save After School Education and Safety (ASES) campaign visit www.saveafterschool.com or the campaign’s Facebook and Twitter pages at https://www.facebook.com/SaveAfterschoolCA and https://twitter.com/SaveAfterschlCa.
About Partnership for Children and Youth
California After School Advocacy Alliance (CA3) is an alliance of organizations are (1) dedicated to promoting legislative and administrative policies, both state and federal, that enhance the quality and accessibility of after-school programs in California, including the protection of funding for the state’s After School Education and Safety Program, and (2) actively engaged and/ or represented in the State Capitol.
The Partnership for Children & Youth (PCY) is coordinating the effort to increase funding for After School Education and Safety Programs. PCY is a California-based non-profit that supports communities, schools and government agencies to work together as unified systems to ensure all children have the learning, health and social supports they need to succeed in school and life.