Hundreds of children, parents, business and community leaders will come together October 25th for Lights On Afterschool day to celebrate the achievements of afterschool students and draw attention to the need for more afterschool programs to serve the millions of children nationwide who are unsupervised and at risk each weekday afternoon. Organized by the Afterschool Alliance, Lights On Afterschool has been celebrated annually since 2000. This year, more than one million Americans will take part in the only nationwide rally for afterschool programs.
Recent data from America After 3PM, the research series on afterschool programs commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance, shows a vast unmet demand for afterschool programs nationwide. In SD 14% children participate in an afterschool program, yet 32% would be enrolled if a program were available. Further, 93% agree that afterschool programs give working parents peace of mind. More work needs to be done to meet the great need for afterschool programs that keep SD kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.
In March, the Afterschool Alliance released a new report on the state of afterschool programs in rural America. Drawing on data from America After 3PM, the report found widespread support for afterschool, with 85 percent of parents saying they are satisfied with their child’s program. However, for every child in a program, three are waiting to become available. That’s 3.1 million children in rural communities who still wait to access the benefits of an afterschool program.
“Afterschool programs offer alternatives to unsupervised time and TV and give kids healthy/physical activities and learning opportunities” states Audrey Rider, Early Childhood Field Specialist for SDSU Extension. Like so many other afterschool programs around the nation, several of SD programs are supported by funding from the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. Since its creation, it has provided funding to allow millions of children to attend afterschool.
More information on the Afterschool Alliance, Lights On Afterschool and America After 3PM is available online.
For more information on early childhood development and resources contact Audrey Rider by email or 605.882.5140.