Unmet Demand for Afterschool Programs in Communities of Concentrated Poverty
Well-run afterschool and summer programs provide a safe, supervised environment in which children from varied backgrounds can play sports, get homework help, explore new topics, do crafts, and receive nutritious snacks and meals. Research has found these programs have a positive impact on students’ educational achievement and social skills.
So, it’s not surprising that these programs are in high demand in communities of concentrated poverty, as found in the study recently released by the Afterschool Alliance, America After 3PM Special Report: Afterschool in Communities of Concentrated Poverty. According to the study, the demand in high-poverty areas is higher than the national average by 15 percent.
But with the high demand comes the need for an affordable supply of programs that are easily accessible with a safe way for kids to get there. Sixty-seven percent of parents living in a communities of concentrated poverty reported finding a program to be a challenge; sixty-one percent reported affordability to be a problem.
Yet another barrier keeping kids in poor communities from participating is the negative perception of afterschool programs among parents whose children don’t attend. Parents with children in the programs, on the other hand, are very likely to be satisfied. Changing perceptions about these programs among non-participating parents in these communities by promoting the numerous supports they can provide is among the recommendations made in the report.
With up to a third of the nation’s children experiencing the negative effects of a widening opportunity gap between high- and low-income families, it stands to reason that afterschool and summer programs can help narrow the gap, especially as “the afterschool program experience of children living in communities of concentrated poverty looks very similar to that of children living outside of these areas.” Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant says it well: “If we are serious about providing equal opportunity and building a workforce that can compete in a 21st century global economy, we must ensure that our most vulnerable children do not miss out on the support and opportunities afterschool programs provide.”
For more information and infographics, visit www.afterschoolalliance.org.