Afterschool programs work Let’s fund services with huge dividends for children and families

Home E State/National News E Afterschool programs work Let’s fund services with huge dividends for children and families
Article Author: Ardith Wieworka
Publication Name: Commonwealth Magazine
Article Date: 9/23/2017
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Each year, thousands of working Massachusetts families rely on afterschool programs to provide a safe, supervised haven for their children. But there are thousands more children sitting on wait lists for affordable, quality programs.

Parents know afterschool programs inspire their children to learn and help them academically as well as to develop the social and emotional skills they’ll need for high school, college, and beyond. Research consistently finds that participation in afterschool programs boosts math and science grades, reduces risky behaviors, and promotes physical health.

It’s for all of these reasons that 90 percent of Massachusetts parents support afterschool programs. This is one issue that does not divide along party lines. For most families, the idea of funding programs for children where they are learning and thriving is a no-brainer, but somehow it continues to be a non-starter when it comes to adequate public funding.

Year after year, the need for afterschool programs far exceeds available funding. Over the last decade alone, unmet demand for these programs grew by 20 percent, while government funding failed to keep pace with the demand. Many centers were forced to close their doors or limit the number of students they could accommodate. This has left countless families unable to find or afford quality programs for their children after school.

While nearly 200,000 kids are enrolled in afterschool programs in Massachusetts, another 362,000 are on waiting lists for available programs and more than 200,000 kids are left unsupervised at home. Quietly, a new generation of latchkey kids has emerged. Too many children are home alone after school – sedentary, bored, and left to their own devices. Access to affordable afterschool programs is the solution for working families who want their kids engaged, safe, and building the skills they need for success.

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