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5 regional differences when looking at the impact of COVID-19 on afterschool

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5 regional differences when looking at the impact of COVID-19 on afterschool

The significant challenges programs, families, and communities face as a result of the coronavirus is evident. As the situation continues to be in constant flux, the Afterschool Alliance is conducting ongoing surveys to track and monitor the evolving needs of afterschool and summer programs as the country moved through phases of the pandemic. Last month, findings from the first wave of the tracking survey were released and revealed the high levels of concern among program providers about the children and families they serve, their staff, and their program’s future, but that in spite of the difficulties, they continue to provide supports and meet the needs of their communities.

 

 

The survey, conducted between May 28 and June 30 of 914 program providers representing more than 6,000 programs, found that nationally, while 70 percent programs were serving students in some capacity during the pandemic, 84 percent reported that they are concerned that they will not be able to provide services in the fall. Digging into regional level data, a few notable differences arose:

  1. Majorities of programs across regions continued to serve students during COVID-19, but the Northeast reported highest levels of reaching young people

More than 3 in 5 program providers across regions reported that they are continuing to serve students, however, programs in the Northeast were more likely to provide services overall, with 76 percent of Northeast programs providing services, compared to 71 percent of programs in the Midwest, 70 percent of programs in the South, and 65 percent of programs in the West.

The West and Midwest also saw the largest drops in students served since the pandemic, with the total number of students served in the West decreasing from approximately 464,000 to close to 100,000 students and in the Midwest dropping from roughly 90,000 to 20,500 students.

  1. Types of services offered largely depend on the region

Northeast programs were much more likely to report serving youth remotely (72 percent), compared to programs in the South (59 percent), West (58 percent), and Midwest (51 percent). However, programs in the West reported the highest levels of serving as a meals site or distributing meals or other resources to families (56 percent), and was the only region with a majority of programs reporting this service.

Programs in the Midwest reported the highest levels of connecting families with community resources (53 percent) and were much more likely to provide care for the children of essential workers (28 percent) than programs in the Northeast (18 percent), West (17 percent), and South (12 percent).

  1. Long-term stability of most concern to program providers in the West

Although the majority of programs in all regions reported being “extremely” or “very” concerned about the long-term funding and program’s future, more than 7 in 10 programs in the West were concerned (72 percent), compared to roughly 6 in 10 programs in the Midwest (63 percent), Northeast (62 percent), and South (57 percent). Similarly, concern about loss of funding to the program during the current year and concern having to permanently close the program were much higher among program providers in the West. For instance, 46 percent of providers in the West were “extremely” or “very” concerned about permanently closing their program compared to 37 percent of providers in the Northeast, 33 percent of providers in the South, and 30 percent of providers in the Midwest.

Providers in the West were also the least likely to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (21 percent), compared to 4 in 10 programs in the Northeast (41 percent) and Midwest (39 percent), and the most likely to report that funding sources are very important for their program (88 percent), with nearly 9 in 10 providers in the West (88 percent) saying funding was “extremely” or “very” important to their program at that point in time, versus 8 in 10 providers in the Northeast (83 percent), Midwest (83 percent), and South (81 percent).

Across regions, programs overwhelming reported concerns about the ability to provide services in the fall, with concern highest in the Northeast (90 percent) and the West (86 percent), followed by the Midwest and South (80 percent, all).

  1. The need for technology and online resources in the South

Compared to the other regions, providers in the South reported the need for more online resources and student access to technology at a higher level (75 percent) than providers in the West (69 percent), Northeast (65 percent), and Midwest regions (54 percent). Similarly, providers in the South were at least 10 percentage points more likely to report that online educational resources to share with families would be most helpful to them (43 percent), compared to providers in the Northeast (33 percent), Midwest (30 percent), and West (27 percent).

  1. High levels of partnership in the West

Program providers in the West are much more likely to report being involved in conversations organized by school districts or schools about reopening plans, with 72 percent reporting in the affirmative, 17 percentage points higher than programs in the Northeast (55 percent), and approximately 10 percentage points higher than programs in the South (62 percent) and Midwest (60 percent).

Looking to the future

When asked about their plans for the summer, majorities of programs across regions report planning to offer summer programming, ranging from 69 percent of Midwest programs to 53 percent of programs in the West. Additionally, roughly half of programs in all regions say that they are at least somewhat optimistic about the future, ranging from 48 percent in the West to 58 percent in the Midwest.

You can help us keep up the story of how COVID-19 is affecting afterschool and summer programs by completing a follow-up survey that focuses on what programs have been able to offer this summer and plans for fall. The survey should take no more than 10-15 minutes of your time and your responses will be anonymous. To thank you for your time, 50 respondents to the survey will be randomly selected to win a $50 cash prize. Start the survey at: https://3to6.co/survey.

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