A report released by the Greater Rochester After-School Alliance (GRASA) found only 5,932 city kids have access to after-school programming, leaving about 14,000 additional children, ages 6 to 17, without those opportunities.
According to the report, although there are about 20,000 kids who are potentially in need of after-school programs in the city, and approximately 6,335 slots available, “the gap between capacity (6,335), and estimated enrollment in after-school care (5,932), indicates that families face barriers to accessing care… such as cost, transportation, and the safety of children traveling to and from the program.”
“That leaves a gap of 14,076 children who could benefit from high-quality care in Rochester, but who are unable to access it,” the report stated.
According to Brigit Hurley, policy analyst at The Children’s Agenda and author of the report, many community organizations offer free or low-cost programs, but, the problem is, there are not enough of them.
“The average weekly charge is $166, which is too expensive for low-income families,” Hurley stated.
Research has shown participation in quality after-school programs increases student academic success, and reduces disparities between low-income students, and their middle- to high-income counterparts, GRASA’s report found.
In addition, a 2013 United Way of Greater Rochester report said children who participated in United Way-funded after-school programs attended school four more days per year; earned GPAs 0.9 points higher than their peers; and scored better on standardized math and science tests.
“With nearly 70 percent of Rochester students not engaged in a structured, consistent experience during non-school hours, we are missing a big opportunity to boost their chances of reading at grade level, graduating from high school, and achieving other milestones on a path toward success,” Mairéad Hartmann, program officer at the Community Foundation and co-chair of GRASA, stated.
The report also outlined the following recommendations for improving kids’ participation in after-school programs:
- All school-age children, and youth (pre-K to 12), should have access to high-quality, out-of-school-time experiences;
- Coordinated advocacy for sustained and increased funding for these academic and enrichment programs should be a priority, and happen more urgently;
- Invest more in compensation, professional development, and creation of a career track for youth workers in these programs;
- And provide all city children access to high-quality summer learning to boost their chances of grade-level reading proficiency, and school success.
According to GRASA officials, 60 out-of-school-time providers were surveyed for the report, including 13 free, government-funded programs.