The Rise of America’s Afterschool Program
The past decade has featured a steady increase in afterschool programs, as more students take advantage of the opportunities and educational activities that these programs have to offer. This increase was highlighted in the recent edition of the America After 3pm study, a decade of data chronicling how children spend the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. Since 2004, the Afterschool Alliance has facilitated the study, which has provided an extensive account of afterschool participation at both a national and state level. While also detailing the level of parent satisfaction with afterschool programs; barriers to participation; and disparities in both by income, race, ethnicity and community type.1
It takes a village.
The old adage was repeated several times at a summit on the importance of quality afterschool programs Thursday. And it was something community leaders agreed upon, calling for collaboration to improve the lives of Central Louisiana kids.
"We need to have a conversation about helping kids be successful," said David Britt, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Central Louisiana. "The research shows that a successful afterschool (program) builds step by step."
Britt coordinated the summit sponsored by the United Way and hosted by Louisiana State University of Alexandria. He cited research that states more than one-third of kids in Rapides Parish already are behind by pre-K for 4-year-olds.
"I don't know how a community can thrive when one out of three people is behind," Britt said. "We need to have a Central Louisiana conversation."
That conversation regarding afterschool or "out of school," which includes summers and holidays, programs involves several steps and many parts working together. Britt wants the community to zero in on one step at a time. The summit was step one.
"Each step is important," Britt said. "This is one step. We need to know what everyone is doing."
Leaders from several community programs spoke briefly before the keynote speaker took the podium. Katie Vanderlick discussed the 85 children enrolled in afterschool programs at the YWCA and an extended reach when it opens a second location in the former YMCA building across town.
Pineville Youth Center Director Alvarez Peychaud talked about the 93 students his program is serving with tutoring, feeding and enrichment activities throughout the week.
In Avoyelles Parish there is the Kennedy Center, whose students take weekly field trips in the summer to expose students to the rest of the state. And LSUA continues learning and healthy activities during June with Camp Carter in Lecompte.
Andrew Ganucheau, director of Louisiana Center for Afterschool Learning, had each leader list one thing they think makes a program "quality." They talked about measurable goals, compassionate staff and content.
Those qualities align with LACAL's process to better their afterschool programs, which is the Louisiana Program Quality Initiative.
"We're here to improve your program," Ganucheau said.
He said program improvement must include the three D's — data, driving and direction. Data means taking attendance and assessing the program to drive — the second D — activity selection, materials and curriculum. The direction is continuous improvement. There is no destination, but rather a continual journey.
He offered five quality standards of best practice for community leaders to implement into their programs. They are standards for the program's environment, relationships, programming, youth participation and emergency preparedness.
For more information visit www.louisianaafterschool.org.
Originally published in the Alexandria Town Talk:
Leigh Guidry, firstname.lastname@example.org, (318) 487-64456:08 p.m. CDT June 11, 2015
Recently the Louisiana Center for Afterschool Learning was celebrating Lights On America, a national celebration dedicated to the academic and intellectual growth that is cultivated in the nation’s after school programs the 10.2 million children that participating throughout the nation.
However, less than 1 percent of these children come from Louisiana, with 100,355 kids participating in after school and 173,749 of Louisiana youth being left alone or unsupervised during after school hours. The numbers highlight a national trend that includes Louisiana, for every child enrolled in an after school program, two other children are probably on a waiting list.
The ratio underscores the dilemma many Louisiana families face, a long work week with limited after school options. According to the Gallup recent study, the average American work week is now 47 hours, and that includes half of salaried full-time employees working more than 50 hours each week. The best thing we can do for these hard working Americans is to ensure that they have quality after school options, which ensures that child is in safe place with academic enrichment.
The community impact of after school programs have been proven throughout the past decade. While 80 percent of juvenile crime occurs between 2 and 6 p.m. according to the FBI statistics, after school programs offer parents a safe solution. This solution includes the documented school benefits with after school participants showing a 65 percent increase in school attendance and 63 percent decrease in behavioral incidents. So if you are one of those parents on a waiting list, speak up and let your community leaders know about the demand for after school in Shreveport.
— Andrew Ganucheau
Baton Rouge, Posted online with Shreveport Times