Unprecedented events demand unprecedented responses. Read our team’s analysis of federal legislation responding to COVID-19, including updates 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Child Care Development Block Grants, USDA meals and snacks, and AmeriCorps service.


COVID Relief & Recovery Funding Bills

Information on three of the COVID relief bills that provide significant opportunities for afterschool and summer programs. For additional information, see ESSER Funding Timeline 2020-2028, a timeline noting legislative activity, funding release dates, fund deadlines and guidance for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds provided in pandemic relief bills. Includes links to resources from Congress, US Department of Education, and CDC.

American Rescue Plan

Get more details on funding, guidance, and tip sheets related to the $30B + available for afterschool and summer on our American Rescue Plan page.

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, passed in December 2020, provides additional education and child care funding, including funding that could support afterschool and summer programs.

  • Fact sheet: CRRSA: Opportunities for Afterschool: COVID-19 Response and Recovery (Updated Jan. 2021) - Summary of COVID legislation and opportunities for afterschool and summer learning programs
  • Blog summary: http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/afterschoolsnack/Federal-afterschool-policy-update-Seizing-the-funding_01-14-2021.cfm

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES), passed in March 2020, included a $30 billion education stabilization fund, a large portion of which can be flexibly used for supports including afterschool and summer, as well as provisions for school-age child care for children of essential employees, non-profit business support, and charitable giving

CARES Act Resources


Tools to Make the Case for Using Relief Funds for Afterschool & Summer Learning Programs


If schools are closed, what happens to 21st Century Community Learning Centers Afterschool Programs?

Since March 2020, 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool programs have operated virtually, in-person, and as hybrid programs. One question has been whether programs can serve students during times when virtual school is in session.

On Sept. 3, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education(ED) posted a notice in the Federal Register on their intent to offer a waiver to allow State Education Agencies (SEAs) to waive the definition of Community Learning Center(s) for implementation of services during "non-school hours or periods when school is not in session (such as before and after school or during summer recess)" for 21st Century Community Learning (21st CCLC) programs in school year 2020-2021. Many state Education Agencies are expected to have applied for and received waivers. Read more here.

Nearly all 50 states issued their own guidance. Nearly all 50 states have issued 21st CCLC guidance for the COVID emergency. Guidance topics include ensuring programs know they may continue to pay staff during the crisis, as well as lists of activities programs may engage in with on-site programming closed, such as virtual learning, meals support, family outreach, and professional development. Many states continue to update their 21st CCLC policies as well. While we do not endorse any specific policies, for some examples of state issued 21st CCLC Guidance, take a look at Indiana, Oregon, California and Montana, which specifically mentions that programs are encouraged to continue to pay all staff for their efforts during the shutdown to alleviate potential financial instability and hardship for employees.

If you cannot find your states guidance on your state COVID webpages feel free to reach out to your state 21st CCLC office directly, or email us and we will see if we know of any guidance in your states.


How are 21st Century Community Learning Centers supporting young people during the pandemic?

In March 2020, most 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) afterschool programs shifted to operating virtually, since then many have shifted back to in-person or hybrid programs, particularly over the summer months. In September of 2020 the U.S. Department of Education(ED) announced a waiver process to allow State Education Agencies (SEAs) to waive the definition of Community Learning Center(s) for implementation of services during "non-school hours or periods when school is not in session (such as before and after school or during summer recess)" for 21st Century Community Learning (21st CCLC) programs in school year 2020-2021. This waiver allows 21st CCLC programs to serve students during the virtual school day. Many State Education Agencies applied for and received waivers during the 2020-2021 school year to allow programs the flexibility to provide services and programs in support of students during the virtual school day. The waivers expired at the end of the 2020-2021 school year and it does not appear that they will be extended  Read more on the waiver here.

Most State Education Agencies have continued to hold 21st CCLC grant competitions during 2021 calendar year. Twenty two states reference a desire to coordinate with their 21st CCLC programs using their American Rescue Plan comprehensive  afterschool and/or summer enrichment state set aside funds – largely using 21st CCLC frameworks and evidence base but without many of the 21st CCLC specific requirements.


Can my program continue to provide afterschool meals?

Afterschool programs can play a vital role in providing in ensuring eligible children continue to receive meals while schools are closed. 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.

Many of these waivers were extended through the end of September 2021, and may be extended past that date. 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.


How is childcare policy, including the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), supporting school age students as a result of the pandemic?

In COVID relief packages, the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) received substantial boosts of an extra $3.5 billion in an early package (CARES), $10 billion in the December 2020 package (CRRSA), and in the American Rescue Plan an additional $39 billion for CCDBG and the Child Care Stabilization Fund.

ARP: School-Age Child Care Opportunities for Afterschool and Summer


In this webinar, we discuss the importance of directing new ARP child care funds to school-age care, including afterschool and summer programs, and outline information for providers on how the funds might support their work and ability to serve youth and families equitably.


America After 3PM: A Game-Changing Summer


The report " A Game-Changing Summer: A time for opportunity and growth, but not for all," provides insights into what the 2019 summer looked like based on responses from nearly 30,000 U.S. families, as well as includes 2020 parent and provider survey data to she light on the impact the pandemic had on young people's summer experiences.


Powerful Partnerships: Schools and Afterschool & Summer Programs


With new support from the American Rescue Plan, schools have an opportunity to leverage support from afterschool and summer programs to help students re-engage, re-connect, and recover. Join us to explore what's possible, how to quickly form effective partnerships, and how to maximize an investment in community-based partners for student recovery.


Utilizing National Service Members to Build Capacity


During this webinar, we'll discuss how afterschool and summer learning programs can leverage national service members. We'll share tips on how to apply for national service members and more.


American Rescue Plan: How to Access Funds for Afterschool & Summer


This “must join” session will provide an overview of the funding opportunity and provide tools that local communities can use to help ensure that they realize the potential of the American Rescue Plan funding to bring more afterschool and summer opportunities to life – and help all children re-engage, re-connect, and recover.


Importance of Including Afterschool in School Reopening Plans


When schools reopen this fall, it won't be business as usual. New health and safety standards developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic necessitate a radical rethinking of the way we serve students.


Virtual Town Hall: #Afterschoolworks to Support Learning & Recovery


The National Town Hall celebrates the many ways afterschool programs have risen to the moment to help their communities respond to the pandemic, and looks ahead toward afterschool and summer learning programs' critical role in recovery. Read the follow-up Q&A document here.


Facing Inequity with Youth and Families During the COVID-19 Era


The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing and widening existing social justice gaps in education broadly and out-of-school time is no exception. Given this unprecedented time, we focus on real-time approaches that afterschool and summer learning programs can use to move the needle on issues of equity and access.


Safely Engaging Youth in a Virtual World


With the quick transition from in-person to virtual learning environments, afterschool providers are quickly adapting to serve young people in this new virtual world. But sifting through all of the resources that have flooded the field can be a tough task. Instead, we can learn from experts who have years of experience preparing educators to engage students in a virtual environment.


Policy Supports for Afterschool and Summer Programs during the Pandemic


State and federal legislation and guidance around education, child care, human services, and child nutrition policy are rapidly changing under the COVID-19 pandemic. As these policies and guidance shift, it is critical to keep track of where things stand and what's coming up.


How Federal COVID-19 Response Bills can Support Afterschool Opportunities


Many afterschool providers are struggling to provide opportunities for young people and families in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and financial assistance and flexibility is often needed. We will talk through opportunities included in the three major COVID-19 response bills, as well as a glimpse into what’s proposed for next round of legislation.