Afterschool programs continue to be a source of support to the children and families in their community as they adapt to the challenging circumstances and stressors created by the pandemic. We've gathered together research (survey results and fact sheets) on COVID's impact as well as resources and examples highlighting ways programs have helped provide meals, community connections, and support for essential workers.


Evidence-based strategies & examples of programs supporting students’ recovery
Issue brief: How Afterschool is Supporting Learning and Recovery During COVID-19
July 2020

This issue brief explores the range of ways in which afterschool programs have responded to the needs of their community and placed the well-being and safety of children and families at the forefront of program efforts.


COVID provider and parent surveys

This year, we continue to see the impact of COVID-19 on afterschool and summer learning programs, and the young people and families who rely on them. As we move closer to recovery, it is important for funders, policymakers, education leaders, and the overall public to understand the supports afterschool and summer learning programs are currently providing, the challenges they face, and what their needs will be to help children recover from this period of loss and isolation.

To help make that possible, the Afterschool Alliance conducted a series of surveys to monitor the situation and help provide solutions. Explore the data in our Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 Survey series!


Examples from the field


To learn more about how afterschool programs can work with community partners to provide meals, check out this webinar hosted by the Afterschool Alliance, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and other partners. Additionally, this FAQs document provides additional guidance on how to safely provide meals, as well as answers to specific questions on serving meals through the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Services has issued a number of waivers to assist afterschool programs and other sponsors in serving meals to students. Issues covered in these waivers include guidance on:

  • serving meals in non-congregate settings,
  • elimination of the activity requirement in afterschool programs,
  • allowances for parents and guardians to pick up meals and flexibility to distribute more than one day's worth of meals at a time, and
  • meal pattern flexibility

The staff at the Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg, West Virginia, are continuing to provide essential support to children, families and communities across their city in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Executive Director Ben Shuman and his team of 10 began gathering food for distribution to students even before schools closed on March 16 and ensured uninterrupted meal service until the school district could begin their own meal plans. They're also partnering with the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and neighborhood grocery store to make sure families can get the food and hygiene supplies needed as they get caught between being furloughed and becoming eligible for food stamps and unemployment.

In Georgia, 62 percent of children qualify for free and reduced price lunch -- meals that the YMCA of Metro Atlanta knew kids would not receive with schools closed. The Y move quickly to re-purpose its meals support to offer meal services and grocery pick up at several Y sites and schools, as well as meal delivery for seniors. The Y worked with partners to adapt to the communities' needs:

USDA: Utilizing newly relaxed guidance from the government, the Y is serving as USDA a meals provider, the Y is offering snack and dinner at Y sites daily from 2-4pm.

Publix Super Markets: A long-time partner of the Y, Publix is now supporting the Y's effort to serve more than 5,000 children each week while schools are closed.

Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation: A supporter of the Y's Backpack Program, which provides groceries for families over the weekends, the program is continuing to distribute backpacks of food each week.

Atlanta Community Food Bank: The Food Bank has provided food, including non-perishables, fresh produce, milk, and meat, to include in weekly backpacks as well as pop-up food pantries at branches. The Y expects to expand this work and be a distribution site for our community members struggling with food insecurity. The Northeast Cobb Family YMCA, in Marietta, is a delivery site for the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Every Wednesday, the Food Bank delivers 10 pallets of food, and volunteers make 250 bags filled with food and distribute them to families in the Marietta School District.

Westside Future Fund: The Y is serving as a packing location to prepare food bags that will be delivered to 250 seniors in the 30314 zip code-Atlanta's Westside.

Paran North Church: The Cobb Ys — Northeast Cobb Family YMCA, McCleskey Family YMCA, and Northwest Cobb Family YMCA — are working with Mt. Paran North Church to provide much-needed food to low-income families living in nearby hotels and apartment complexes in Cobb County. While the church is providing food it collected as donations, the Y is organizing the packing and delivery of meals.

Atlanta Classical Academy: The Y is partnering with schools like the Atlanta Classical Academy to use their locations for meal delivery


The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa has been hard at work to provide meals and virtual programming for local families, even in the face of COVID-19. They've partnered with the Food Bank of Iowa to deliver meals to families. As of mid-April, more than 500 food bags have been distributed to families in need. They're also providing innovative daily virtual programming for Club kids through their website and Facebook, including STEM, art and physical activities.

Staying connected
DC Scores in Washington, DC, is responding to COVID-19 with an at-home poetry challenge. Students are encouraged to write poem about their community using mad libs-style prompts, film themselves reading them, challenge two friends to do the same, and then post to Twitter with #AtHomePoetryChallenge. DC Scores hopes these poems help students feel like they are "part of the solution--building a resilient, supportive community around the kids who need it the most."
Breakthrough Greater Boston, which has provided targeted summer instruction, afterschool programming, mentorship, and college access guidance to middle and high school students in the Boston area for nearly 30 years, adapted rapdily to stay connected with its community of students, parents and staff, and to support them during the pandemic. Breakthrough holds community Zoom calls each week for their students, teachers, and staff to connect, and are doing 1-on-1 calls with every student each week to ensure that their students have access to educational resources and services. During those call, staff use the opportunity to check in on their students' and families' physical and mental health and access to care, food availability, potential need for emergency financial supports, and any technology supports needed.
Texas ACE (Afterschool Centers on Education) is a grant program administered by the Texas Education Agency and funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. It operates across Texas, including in Grulla, serving 530-800 students per day at 3 middle schools and 1 high school. Grulla is a border town with 2 international bridges; 20% of ACE attendees are recent immigrants, 100% are bilingual/speak English as their second language, and qualify for the free- and reduced-price lunch program. ACE teachers now deliver programming at the regularly scheduled afterschool time via Zoom or Google Hangouts and provide academic support to kids via text messaging during their academic "power hour." They also still instruct enhanced learning like ceramics and woodworking. The teacher simply records him or herself doing the activity, and then provides woodworking or ceramic kits for ACE attendees to pick up with their "grab and go" school meals at the middle and high school emergency response feeding sites. Then, they're able to participate in the activities from home with the needed materials. Because Grulla is a rural area with impoverished residents, many students rely on these school meals to eat for the day, some do not have running water or electricity at home, nor do they have technology. For families who do not have computers or phones at home, the school library loans them devices, and students can also call a 1-800 number to have a wifi hotspot delivered. For families without access to transportation, ACE staff deliver meals and activity kits to families' houses. Materials are also translated to Spanish.
Staff of the Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg, who now work entirely from home, check in with families via phone and video conference on a weekly basis to make sure families are healthy and safe. Staff also lead regular video "teen chats" and provide other virtual Club activities and challenges to stay in touch with students and community members. Ben and his team are working with the Ross Foundation, the West Virginia University Parkersburg Entrepreneur Center, and the Epicenter in Marietta, by using the Club's makerspace to create real, working face shields and masks for Parkersburg's medical community and first responders. As of early April, they've made 250 laser-cut shields (with the ultimate goal of making 4,000) for distribution in their region.
Supporting the children of essential workers

The Institute for Childhood Preparedness created an extensive guide to help afterschool programs and child care centers provide services for children of essential workers. Topics covered include coordination with local governments and partners, staffing, and health and safety considerations.

YMCA of Silicon Valley is providing an essential service in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis: allowing many parents to keep going to work. They're transitioning several facilities into "pop-up" day camps where parents can drop off their children while they go to their jobs. They're also partnering with El Camino Hospital to offer free childcare for hospital employees, and with the Morgan Hill Unified School District to provide childcare for essential staff and first responders. YMCA staff offer youth development activities, independent study and free meals across the programs for students from transitional kindergarten through middle school.

Migrant children in Florida still have a safe place to learn while schools are closed, thanks to a tent school outside the Gargiulo Education Center. Markers outline six-foot boundaries and spaces are sterilized between each session with 9-10 children at a time. Logging the extra instruction hours helps these students stay on-track!

With all of its facilities close for regular services, the YMCA of Metro Atlanta stepped up to support first responders, medical professionals, and essential workers by caring for their children while they work. The Y worked with area hospitals, the Governor's Office, and Georgia's Department of Early Care and Learning to transition sites to meet this need, making careful adjustments such as limiting groups to 10 children and having nurses on site to check for symptoms and monitor temperatures of all participants at drop off. To meet the need for 2,000 children identified by hospital partners, each center is set up to serve approximately 80 children, ages 3-12, and is open from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Read more on Y's blog