Affordable and accessible high-quality child care is a critical issue for working families across the U.S. Although the benefits of quality child care for both children and their parents are numerous, many families struggle to afford and find child care that meets their needs. The 10th edition of Child Care Aware of America’s report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, reveals the ongoing challenges families have faced regarding child care over the past decade. The report also discusses the impact the high cost of child care has on the child care workforce, what some states are doing to better support the families in their community, and steps we can take as a country to make sure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care.
Below are a few highlights from the report:
Child care costs are high.
- Examining the cost of child care in the U.S., the report found that the cost of center-based infant care was unaffordable for parents in all but one state. Although the cost of child care should not be more than 7 percent of a families’ median income (based on standards from the Department of Health and Human Services), in some states it was more than two times as high, accounting for 14 percent of a families’ median income.
- In 19 states, the annual average cost of center-based care for a four-year-old is higher than the cost of college tuition.
- Another startling finding from the report is that in all 50 states, a child care worker who has two children would spend more than half of their income on child care if they wanted to enroll their children in center-based care. In 14 states, this cost would be more than 100 percent of a child care worker’s income.
Certain communities are more heavily impacted.
- The report found that child care deserts, or areas where families have either limited or no access to quality child care, are especially prevalent in, “low-income communities, rural communities, among families of color, and among families with irregular or nontraditional work schedules.”
- Among low-income families, paying for child care is especially challenging, where the average cost of center-based care for an infant is between 17 and 43 percent of a families’ income.
Where do we go from here?
- The report outlines a number of recommendations to help ease the cost burden of child care for families, including those in the child care workforce, such as increasing federal investments in child care funding through the Child Care and Development Block Grant, creating public-private partnerships that will invest in child care at the local level, and prioritizing professional development and a living wage for child care workers.
To learn more, visit Child Care Aware of America’s website where you can download a copy of the full report, as well as find out what the cost of child care looks like in your state through Child Care Aware of America’s new interactive map.
After two years of reading nominations for the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award, the staff at the Afterschool Alliance has learned a lot about the work accomplished by the afterschool field. We’ve seen students becoming reporters and editors in a Dane County, Wisconsin, afterschool program that focuses on publishing student-run newspapers for the area. We’ve discovered an afterschool program in Atlanta, Georgia, that works with the area’s immigrant and refugee population, providing one-on-one support and a literacy curriculum designed for English language learners to ensure that students are academically prepared to enter high school.
We’ve also learned the qualities shared by strong nomination forms, and the mistakes commonly made by nominators. For these reasons, as well as to help answer frequently asked questions about the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award (still accepting nominations!), we hosted a webinar on Nov. 10. In the webinar, we shared insights on the award process, answered audience questions, and offered tips to filling out the nomination form.
The call for nominations doesn’t close until Dec. 16, so you still have time to nominate a program! Here are three tips to consider from the webinar before getting started:
1. Be an advocate for your program.
How can you differentiate your program from the other programs that are being nominated? Think about how your program is helping meet the needs of your students, parents and/or community. Is there something about the community the program serves that should be highlighted? Is there strong data that demonstrates the positive impact of the program? There are a number of open-ended questions in the nomination form; use each question as an opportunity to highlight for reviewers the role that the program is playing to help its students. Be an advocate for your program and make the strongest case possible to help reviewers recognize its value.
We are so excited to announce the return of the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award! With the generous support of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the Afterschool Alliance is once again looking for stellar afterschool programs that provide students with integral literacy learning opportunities to develop their reading, writing and critical thinking skills. This year, the focus of the award is on English language learners and the ways afterschool programs ensure that these students have the reading and writing abilities they need to thrive.
Nominations for the $10,000 Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award are now open. Here are three tips to help you get started:
Download a PDF version of the nomination form to review the questions ahead of time and see what information you need gather on the program you are nominating.
Send us any questions you have about the award and/or nomination form that we can answer during our upcoming webinar on Nov. 10, "What Reviewers Want: Insights on Nominations for the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award."
Tune in for the webinar on Nov. 10, where we’ll cover the qualities of a promising nomination form and common critiques of past nomination submissions from people who have been involved in the review process.
Nominations are due by December 16, 2016
Be sure to share this opportunity with your friends and colleagues! We’re looking forward to reading about the great work supporting English language learner students that is taking place in afterschool programs across the country.
Following the release of our latest America After 3PM report, Afterschool in Communities of Concentrated Poverty, which looks at the role of afterschool programs in areas where there is a high concentration of families living below the poverty line, our interactive web dashboard has been updated to feature data on the state of afterschool in these high poverty areas. On the communities of concentrated poverty dashboard page, you can find out what parents in these high poverty areas are looking for in their child’s afterschool program, how long children participate in afterschool programs, and how satisfied parents are with the activities in their child’s afterschool program. The dashboard also includes data on the barriers parents living in communities of concentrated poverty face enrolling their child in an afterschool program.
The primary goal of this dashboard is to create an easy way to navigate through the large amount of data collected through the America After 3PM survey. In addition to finding afterschool-related information on specific populations, such as communities of concentrated poverty and rural communities, you can see what afterschool looks like in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as learn about key subject areas, including STEM and health and wellness.
This latest update is the fifth in a series of updates we have made to the dashboard to make sure that it is able to provide you with as comprehensive a look at afterschool as possible. Take some time to explore all that the dashboard has to offer!
Where you live has direct and indirect impacts on the fundamental resources and opportunities you count on, and which many people may take for granted. Your location affects the quality of schools available to you, your access to healthy and affordable food, and your overall wellbeing and future economic success.
This is why the Afterschool Alliance believed it was critical to examine the role that afterschool programs are playing (or not playing) in communities of concentrated poverty. These are neighborhoods, or groupings of neighborhoods, where there is a high concentration of families living below the poverty line. This is the first time that America After 3PM data has been used to look at high-poverty communities that research has found are struggling when looking at economic, academic and health indicators.
In our new America After 3PM special report, Afterschool in Communities of Concentrated Poverty, we take a closer look at the afterschool program experience of children and families living in communities of concentrated poverty, including participation in afterschool programs, barriers preventing participation, activities and services provided by programs, and satisfaction with programs.
Key findings from the report include:
- The demand for afterschool school and summer learning programs in communities of concentrated poverty is high. Both participation in and the demand for afterschool and summer learning programs is higher in communities of concentrated poverty compared to the national average.
- Close to 1 in 4 children living in communities of concentrated poverty (24 percent) participate in an afterschool program, compared to less than 1 in 5 nationally (18 percent). More than half of children in communities of concentrated poverty not in an afterschool program would be enrolled if one were available (56 percent), compared to the national average of 41 percent.
- When asked about participation in summer learning programs, 41 percent of parents living in communities of concentrated poverty reported that their child participated in a summer learning program and 66 percent would like their child to take part in a summer learning program, higher than the national average of 33 percent and 51 percent, respectively.
If you have ever wondered what a successful data sharing partnership looks like, or wished that there was a resource available to help you make the case for data partnerships in afterschool, look no further. A new video released by the National League of Cities—in partnership with the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) and the Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA)—showcases the power of data in afterschool programming. This three-minute video, made possible with support from The Wallace Foundation, takes a look at the city of Nashville, TN and highlights the successful data sharing partnership between Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and NAZA, a network of high-quality afterschool programming serving the city’s middle school students.
Adam Yockey, Northeast Zone Director of NAZA, summarizes the value of data sharing partnerships, stating, “I believe that the afterschool providers want to be seen as a partner and a support for what is going on in the school day. If you only get data at the end of the school year, you’ve lost an entire year that you could have been working intentionally with that student. It helps the afterschool providers focus more on what the students actually need instead of just a program that they offer.”
This video is a great example of why partnerships like the one in Nashville are so critical if we are serious about making sure that all students have the supports in place both in and out of school that will set them up for success. If you are interested in learning more about what steps can be taken to promote data sharing among partners, you can take a look at a blog I wrote earlier this summer on four policy priorities released by the DQC outlining how district leaders can take the initiative to make data work for students.
The third edition of the Journal of Expanded Learning Opportunities (JELO) has arrived! This spring issue features a conversation about quality programming in afterschool, an article on the role that social emotional learning can play to close the achievement and learning gaps, and an article focusing on the links between professional development and quality STEM learning experiences.
The JELO is an incredibly important resource for the afterschool field; it not only adds to the body of research on afterschool programs, but it makes the connection between research and practice for afterschool program providers and increases public awareness of the expansive work taking place in afterschool programs. In this issue, readers can:
- Review a researcher and practitioner dialogue on quality in afterschool with Carol McElvain, managing technical assistance consultant for the American Institutes for Research and Michael Funk, afterschool division director for the California Department of Education. This piece provides a valuable look at the topic of program quality from both a researcher’s and a practitioner’s perspective—asking each about the value of quality standards, the costs associated with running a quality program, recommendations on how to run a quality program, and more.
- Learn more about the relationship between professional development, staff beliefs, the quality of STEM learning activities and the impact on student outcomes. This research-based article digs into the impact that professional development in afterschool programs has not only on program staff, but on students in the program as well.
- Better understand how afterschool programs’ focus on social emotional learning can help support its students’ school day success.
There’s too much information in this issue for one blog post to do it justice! Stay tuned for future blog posts dedicated to the link between professional development and STEM learning experiences and promising practices connected to social emotional development.
Student data is a valuable resource for afterschool programs. It helps inform program providers about their students’ needs, the programming that will best support their students and the program’s impact on students’ progress. As important of a role that data play for afterschool programs to best meet the needs of their students, many programs face obstacles accessing their students’ data collected by schools due to privacy and sharing concerns.
Recognizing that data collection and data sharing are essential to ensure that all students receive a great education, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) released four policy priorities to take quality data collection and data sharing from a vision to a reality. DQC’s fact sheet, Time to Act: District Actions to Make Data Work for Students, outlines how district leaders can take the initiative and make progress on this front, many of which encourage data sharing with partners, including afterschool programs.
Here are the four policy priorities to make data work for students:
- Measure what matters. This includes establishing a governance body that oversees the district’s data use and policies, as well as designing data systems that meet the district’s specific needs.
- Make data use possible. Establish a culture that understands the value data brings and provide the necessary support—such as policies, practices and trainings—to make sure that all stakeholders, including afterschool programs and parents, know how to use the data effectively.
- Be transparent and earn trust. Communicate regularly with the community to identify their needs and constantly talk to parents about the ways in which their child’s data is being protected. Engage all stakeholders in planning and governance activities.
- Guarantee access and protect privacy. Make certain that student data is kept private while allowing all stakeholders, including afterschool programs and parents, to access student data that is tailored to their needs.
Promoting policies that form stronger data sharing partnerships between schools and afterschool programs is a win-win for all parties involved. It’s a win for schools, whose partners will have greater information on how to support students; it’s a win for afterschool programs, who will be able to better serve their students; and, most importantly, it's a win for students, whose educational experience will be better tailored to their needs. Visit DCQ’s website to download the fact sheet or learn more about their new agenda launched last April that focuses on data sharing.