Why #WeNeed25

Why are OST Programs Important?

Out of School Time (OST) Programs, including before, after, and summer school programming, play a critical role in providing a safe, structured environment for children. These programs promote positive benefits such as improved academic, social/emotional, and health and wellness outcomes based on indicators like attendance, engagement in class, self-esteem, and reduction of risky behaviors.

Summer programs can have an especially big impact on children’s performance in school. Lack of participation in summer enrichment programs leads to summer learning loss, also known as the “summer slide.” Karl Alexander, a researcher from Johns Hopkins, reported that a lack of summer enrichment during elementary school years can account for about two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower and higher income students. Without access to quality, affordable summer programs, children in D.C. are put at a significant disadvantage.

These programs are also really important to working parents. According to a study done by Brandeis University, parents concerned about their children’s after-school care miss an average of eight days of work per year. An investment in OST programs makes for a stronger DC, as parents living in the city will be able to make sure that their children, no matter where they live, can access a diversity of high quality programs.

Current Access to OST Programs

In October, the D.C. Policy Center reported on what they found about OST programs’ in DC, focusing specifically on after-school and summer programs that were publicly funded. When broken down by level of subsidy (programs that were either completely free or a small cost to families), the results show that we are not reaching all of our kids, and we have a particular gap in summer programs for younger children.

Even under the narrowest goal—providing subsidized (free or low cost) OST programs to children and youth in households at or below the poverty line—the District still needs to provide and fund summer programming for 12,200 children in grade 8 and below. The data also demonstrated inequitable access based on location, with more programming needed in wards 7 and 8

What is the Cost of OST Programs?

DC parents want educational enrichment program options that do not sacrifice quality for affordability. Our city needs to do more to invest in programs to make them high quality and affordable for more families. Along with program cost, parents also reported that the cost of transportation and the timing of programs can be additional barriers to participation.

In 2010, the budget for expanded learning programs was $12.2 million. The current budget for the Office of Out-of-School Time Grants and Youth Advocates is set at $4.1 million. This means far fewer students are being served. This cut especially affects "at-risk "children and youth living below the poverty line who rely on public funding for programs. This year, the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) estimates that $25 million is necessary to subsidize OST programs for DC children and "at-risk" youth.

DC Needs $25 Million to Get Students Access to OST Programs

The DC Alliance of Youth Advocates estimates that our city needs to invest at least $25 million to give more of our students access to quality, enriching out of school time programs that reduce opportunity and achievement gaps.

$25 million would provide subsidized (free or low cost) before, after, and summer school opportunities that will create greater equity in our city during out of school time hours, making a stronger DC for all of our families and allowing our students to have the types of programs that they want – and need.

This investment, five times what we are currently investing in our programs, will empower children from low-income families to learn and grow from the same kinds of enriching OST opportunities their upper income peers already receive. No family should have to choose between paying for rent and food or paying for OST programs to ensure their child is on track for success. As a city, we should invest so that every student in the District has access to OST programs that will advance their education, and help them thrive.