Last week, the California Legislature took a leap forward for students, families, and communities and provided critically needed funding for the After School Education and Safety (ASES) programs that benefit over 400,000 California low-income students every day.
After a decade of flat funding, double-digit rising operational costs, and a Trump budget proposal that threatens to eliminate federal funding for after school, California’s after-school programs are struggling to keep their doors open and retain quality staff. That is why over the past year more than 340 organizations including school and local government leaders, and 2,400 individuals told the Legislature and the Governor to ‘Save After School’ and provide additional funding for after-school programs this year. In addition to grassroots advocacy across the state, over 10,000 postcards from students, families, and after-school providers were delivered to the Governor in May – telling the Governor why after school is important to them.
“We thank the Legislature for responding to the voices of students, families and community partners from across the state and recognizing the critical role our state-funded after-school programs play in the supporting the success and safety of our young people,” said Jennifer Peck, President, and CEO of the Partnership for Children & Youth. “We urge the Governor, as a champion for educational equity and public safety, to accept the Legislature’s prioritization of after school programs in this year’s budget.”
Last night, the Budget Conference Committee voted to provide an additional $50 million for ASES programs in Fiscal Year 2017-18. The campaign is encouraged by the Administration’s support for the Proposition 98 conference committee package, which includes the ASES increase, which a signature is on its way. Though the Legislature’s proposal only goes halfway in meeting the field’s fiscal needs of a $9 daily rate in response to the state rising minimum wage, this is an essential first step that will allow programs to stay open and ensure thousands of students continue to have a safe place to go after the school bell rings.
ASES programs benefit students across California, providing essential services including nutritious meals, homework help, academic enrichment, and safe places to play after the school bell rings. Students who regularly attend these programs show improvements in their grades, test higher in language arts and math, are 20 percent less likely to drop out of school and are 30 percent less likely to commit a juvenile crime.
ASES programs benefit California’s most vulnerable students and families: over 80 percent of participants are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, and over 35 percent are English language learners. In addition to providing critical academic supports, ASES programs build social and emotional skills that give students confidence. By keeping kids off the streets after the school day ends, ASES programs also help build safer neighborhoods.
Polls show that California voters overwhelmingly support funding for after school: more than 80 percent of Californians believe all children should have access to quality after school, regardless
of their ability to pay, and 62 percent believe that quality after-school programming is the best way to provide safe environments for kids outside of school hours.