The parents of 19.4 million children would send their child to an after-school program—if one were available. Nearly 9 out of 10 voters are concerned that children are unsupervised after school with too much unstructured time. We can’t afford not to invest in after-school programs. After-school programs save at least three tax dollars for every one spent by reducing the need for remedial education and grade repetition as well as keeping kids safe and out of trouble. Voters want government at every level to invest in after-school. 9 in 10 Americans think after-school programs are important. 8 in 10 parents (83 percent) support public funding for after-school programs and want to see all levels of government to commit funding. Parents of 19.4 million children (41 percent) say they would enroll their children in an after-school program if one were available to them. Voters say they are willing to use taxpayer money—and even pay more in taxes—to support after-school programs. For more information on voter attitudes, look at the polling data section of the After-school Alliance website.
Dozens of formal studies clearly demonstrate the effectiveness and impact of after-school programs. Example No. 1: Elementary school students attending LA’s BEST after-school program improved their regular school day attendance and reported higher aspirations regarding finishing school and going to college. Participants were also 20 percent less likely to drop out of school compared to matched nonparticipants. Example No. 2: High school students participating in Chicago’s After School Matters program have higher class attendance, lower course failures and higher graduation rates than similar students who do not participate in the program. For more information go to the Facts & Research section of our website. Unfortunately, adequate childcare is not always available in every community. Nationwide, nearly 5 million children in grades K-8 regularly care for themselves.
Today, less than one-fourth of American families fit the “traditional” image of one parent at home caring for children full time, while the other parent provides financial support. In fact, 77 percent of mothers with school-age children are employed. The gap between work and school schedules can amount to as much as 25 hours per week. The bottom line is this: after-school programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help America’s working families. The realities of today’s working world make after-school programs an absolute necessity.