A survey released last week by the Afterschool Alliance representing 4,947 sites serving 567,470 children painted a grim picture for the afterschool programs in the country and the commonwealth. Nearly two out of three afterschool programs said their budgets are inadequate to meet the needs of their communities, and 86% claim children in their communities need afterschool care but are unable to access it. Kacy Conley, Director of the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network, said it's bad enough the state is recoverying from poor economic conditions.
"In comparison to the nation we're in an even worse place in terms of this," Conley said.
The study says nearly half of Pennsylvania afterschool programs report that their budgets are in worse shape today than at the height of the recession in 2008, that’s eight points higher than the national figure of 39%. The study also cites 71% of Pennsylvania programs reporting their funding is down “a little or a lot” from three years ago, which is nine points above the national result.
The top three changes instituted by Pennsylvania afterschool programs as a result of funding cuts or budget stagnation are fee increases, elimination or fewer field trips, and reduction in the variety of activities offered. Conley stressed the importance of good quality afterschool programs.
"We know that it's the highest use of drugs is this period [after school] and alcohol, also we know that sexual activity occurs during this time," Conley said. "It's an area of danger when there is not supervision and really positive things happening for young people."
The results are part of the Afterschool Alliance’s Uncertain Times 2012 survey project, also conducted in 2006 and 2009.