Afterschool Programs

In communities today, 15.1 million children take care of themselves after the school day ends. Afterschool programs keep children safe, help working families and inspire learning. This is why we, at LifeSpan, spent October 18th celebrating our afterschool programs by participating in the 13th annual Lights On Afterschool Challenge inviting our families and community members to join us for a fun filled afternoon of various activities, displays and healthy snacks at all 6 of our Quakertown Afterschool Program locations demonstrating how our programs and staff continue extra learning opportunities during Out of School Time (OST).

Each day in America, millions of children go home to an empty house after school. In recent years, the growth of quality, affordable afterschool programs – programs that keep children safe, inspire learning and help working families – has begun to offer parents of these children positive alternatives. Over the past 5 years, afterschool programs have played an increasingly important role in providing valuable afterschool opportunities for children and families with OST programs.

Afterschool programs today are serving significantly more children than they served 5 years ago, but there also are more children unsupervised each afternoon in the United States, creating more at risk youth in our communities causing the demand for afterschool programs to be higher than ever.

More than 25% of America’s school age children are on their own after the school day ends, before parents get home from work. Despite the growing awareness that children are at particular risk during the hours of 3 pm – 6 pm, the number and percentage of children left on their own in the afternoons has actually increased in the last 5 years.

Today, 30% of middle school students (3,722,219) and four percent of elementary school children (1,133,989) are unsupervised after the school bell rings.

The availability of afterschool programming for children has improved within the last 5 years and families are taking good advantage of the programs offered.

Quantitative Data of Why Afterschool Programs are Needed for Your Children

Inspiring Learning – Children and youth who regularly attend high-quality programs have better grades and conduct in school; more academic and enrichment opportunities; better peer relations and emotional adjustment; and lower incidences of drug-use, violence and pregnancy (U.S. Department of Education, 2000).

Afterschool programs help students succeed and stay in school. Frequent attendance in quality programs improves grades and test performance, increases school attendance, improves homework completion and quality, reduces grade retention and increases the likelihood that students will graduate from high school and go on to some type of post secondary education (Afterschool Alliance and Harvard Family Research Project, 2004). Research shows that good afterschool programs can not only improve academic performance, but also influence school-day attendance.

Afterschool programs are proven to reduce risk behaviors and cut crime. Youth who do not participate in afterschool programs are nearly 3 times more likely to use drugs and 37% more likely to become parents (U.S. Department of Education, 2000). Studies show that juvenile crime and other risk behaviors like smoking, drinking, doing drugs and sexual activity are more likely to occur between 3 pm and 6 pm (Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2000). Afterschool programs also keep children safe and healthy through health and wellness education, encouraging physical activity and providing a safe, stable environment to learn.


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