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Afterschool for America's Children Act introduced in the House

By Erik Peterson

Yesterday, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) introduced the Afterschool for America's Children Act (HR 1042) in the House of Representatives.  The  legislation would reauthorize and strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative—the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool programs—by supporting innovative advances taking root in before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs. The bill was announced at an event in Flint, Mich. last week and is companion legislation to bipartisan S. 308 introduced previously in the Senate.  A summary of the legislation is available here.

The reintroduction of the Afterschool for America’s Children Act comes as the full House of Representatives prepares to debate and vote this week on HR 5, a partisan ESEA reauthorization bill that would eliminate 21st CCLC and replace it with a block grant that can be used for afterschool or in-school programming.

The House Afterschool for America’s Children Act:

  • Strengthens school-community partnerships to include sharing of data and resources, the ability to better leverage relationships within the community and provide an intentional alignment with the school day.
  • Promotes professional development and training of afterschool program staff.
  • Encourages innovative new ways to engage students in learning that looks different from a traditional school day, with an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); and physical activity and nutrition education. 
  • Supports approaches that focus on individualized learning that provide a variety of ways for students to master core skills and knowledge.
  • Provides accountability measures that are connected to college- and career-readiness goals and show student progress over time toward meeting indicators of student success including school attendance, grades and on-time grade level advancement.
  • Ensures that funding supports programs that utilize evidence-based, successful practices.
  • Increases quality and accountability through parent engagement; better alignment with state learning objectives; and coordination between federal, state and local agencies. 
  • Does not prioritize any one model of expanded learning opportunities over another. 
  • Maintains formula grants to states that then distribute funds to local school-community partnerships through a competitive grant process.

With both chambers of Congress actively debating education and afterschool policy, it is important that Congress see a strong showing of support from afterschool advocates across the country.  Your representative wants to hear from you!  Take action now by urging your representative to support 21st CCLC as a dedicated, separate funding stream for afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that are re-engaging children in their education and future.  Share personal examples or experiences that illustrate the importance of these out-of-school programs for enhancing learning, keeping young people safe and helping working families.