Why After-School Programs?
Beyond ensuring our community’s children a safe place to go at the end of the school day, research shows after-school programs provide benefits to children, parents, and the community.
Why after school?
The national dialogue regarding after school has followed a similar path as the earlier and still on-going conversation regarding early education and care. Initially, concern was around the very practical. Across the county and across the country more and more families have working parents: A family is more likely to be led by two working parents or by a single parent who works. There are approximately 130,000 children and youth age 5-17 in Monroe County. CGR [Center for Governmental Research] has analyzed family work status in Monroe County and found that about 70% (or 91,000) of all school-age children in Monroe County, with similar proportions in both city and suburbs, live in homes with parents who work (either two working parents or a single parent who is working outside the home).
Keeping kids and the community safe:
As more and more parents work, more and more homes are empty at the end of the school day, and research has found that the hours of 3:00-6:00 p.m. are the most risky hours of the day for children and youth. Thus, after-school programming has grown over the last decade both across the U.S. and in Monroe County in an attempt to meet the growing gap of time between the end of the school-day and the end of the work-day because it is when youth are most likely to be perpetrators or victims of crime.
A recent survey conducted by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids New York found that “teens unsupervised after-school for three or more days a week were four times more likely to have committed a crime and used illegal drugs than teens that were supervised the entire week.” Because of these risks, 93% of New York’s police chiefs, sheriffs, and prosecutors surveyed agreed that if we fail to make greater investments in after-school programs now, “we will pay far more later in crime, welfare, and other costs.” The conversation, though, has evolved as new research has found positive effects for children and youth who attend after-school programming, suggesting that for some participants, safety is not the only benefit. Some participants see improved school outcomes in terms of interest, attendance, and grades.
After-school programs provide students with academic enrichment to meet state learning standards. They promote healthy lifestyles through organized physical activity and healthy snacks. They also provide youth with access to caring adult mentors. Research has found that students in after-school programs are more likely to: Complete their homework; Aspire to go to college; Be involved in athletics, art, music, dance, and drama; and Show improved problem-solving, conflict-resolution, and leadership skills and less likely to have problem behavior in school. Research has also suggested a link between teen pregnancy and STD/STI rates and unsupervised time after-school.
There’s an additional benefit of after-school programs:
Meeting parent and local business needs.
Working parents who worry about their children during the after-school hours do not perform as well at work. They are three times as likely to report high levels of job disruptions. They are also significantly more frequently interrupted, distracted, and drained of energy at work by non-work issues and significantly more frequently make errors, turn down requests to work extra hours, and miss meetings and deadlines at work because of non-work issues.
Lee-Davis, C., Kaczorowski, J., & Yale, M. (2007). The after-school inventory. Original Source.