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Campaign for Afterschool For All

The Problem:   Kids Go From School To Trouble After Hours

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         The parents of more than 28 million school-age children work outside the home (U.S. Department of Labor).  At least 7 million and as many as 15 million "latchkey children" return to an empty house on any given afternoon (U.S. Census Bureau, Urban Institute estimates, 2000).

         Children are at greater risk of being involved in crime, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy in the hours after school, particularly between the hours of 3 - 4 p.m. (National Center for Juvenile Justice, 1999).  50% of all juvenile crime is committed between the hours of 2 – 8:00 p.m. (U.S. Department of Justice).

         The most common activity for children after school is watching television -- on average, 23 hours a week (A.C. Nielsen and Company, 1992).

         K - 12 academic achievement, particularly in reading levels, math and science, has been stagnant or falling in test after test, and there is a growing achievement gap between students of color and lower income students than with everyone else.  With the federal mandates for testing children in grades 3 through 8, students will be increasingly challenged to keep pace with rising academic standards.  84 schools in Wisconsin face an escalating list of sanctions, including 64 in Milwaukee alone. 

         Nearly two-thirds of voters report difficulty in finding quality, affordable programs (Mott/JCPenney poll, 2000).  Twice as many elementary and middle school parents want afterschool programs as are currently available (National Opinion Research Center, August 1998).

The Solution:  Quality Afterschool Care Must Continue!

Afterschool programs keep kids safe, help working families who can’t afford child care, and improve students' academic achievement.  Community Learning Centers use neighborhood schools to provide critical opportunities for youth and local residents to grow, obtain needed services, and become more productive citizens.  Citizen Action is a strong advocate for these programs to continue with adequate funding, and we have a vision of using them to win citywide systems of school-based services that help families with their safety, health, finances and children’s education

v       Community Learning Centers (“CLCs”) in Milwaukee meet the needs and interests of 22,616 students and residents over the course of a year.  CLCs are an ongoing and integral part of the school and community cultures, providing a safe place for children during after school hours and year-round learning centers for the entire community. CLCs are open for an average of 18.9 hours per week before and after school, and 7.2 hours per week after 6:00 p.m. There are more hours a child has after school than in school.

v       Students in MPS Community Learning Centers have better academic performance.  In grades 2 through 8, a greater average percentage of CLC regular attendees achieved proficiency in reading (47.2%) and math (22.8%) as compared to non-attendees in Milwaukee schools with CLCs (School/Community Integrated Services Network Evaluation Committee, 2001).  For middle and high school students, a greater average percentage of regular CLC attendees (37.4%) increased their annual GPA compared to non-attendees (25.8%), and a lower percentage showed a decrease in their GPA (30.8% as compared to 41.2% for non-attendees). 

v       School attendance improves while absences decrease.  A greater percentage of regular CLC attendees (54.9%) have high day school attendance (of 10 or fewer absences) for the year as compared to their peers who don’t attend CLCs in the same schools (37.7%). 

v       Students in afterschool programs exhibit fewer behavioral problems, better ability to handle conflicts and improved self-confidence.  Students who spend 1 - 4 hours per week in extracurricular activities are 51% less likely to have used drugs and 63% less likely to become teen parents than those who do not (U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services: Adolescent Time Use, Risky Behavior and Outcomes, 1995).

Community Learning Centers are part of the solution to increased safety and reduced crime.  The crime rate in CLC neighborhoods (.25 miles radius) is lower than the rest of the city for all crimes.   City of Milwaukee crime trends reveal a steady reduction in reported felony and misdemeanor crimes since 1997. 

Action:  Support Funding to Expand and Sustain CLCs

Sustaining and expanding Milwaukee’s CLC program so that ALL children and their families have access to quality afterschool care will require $12 million every two years.  Federal grants to Wisconsin school districts for CLCs only last three years, with the expectation that school districts will turn to state, federal and local communities for ongoing support and funding of the CLC programs.  Despite his rhetoric of “Leave No Child Behind,” President Bush has proposed slashing federal funding for this program by $400 million in Fiscal Year 2004, denying more than half a million children access to safe places where they currently go.  Existing Milwaukee CLCs will be short by $420,000 - 800,000 next year and by $1.125 million the year after that – closing down sites and leaving thousands of kids without a place to go.  More most be done immediately:

 

  1. Restore full federal funding to the CLC program:  “DO NO HARM” to the CLCs by supporting the continuing resolution for the same level of funding ($1 billion) next year.  Wisconsin will lose over $5,788,681 with 8,270 children dropped with the Bush cut.

 

  1. Milwaukee earmark:  Our congressional delegation needs to secure a budget earmark of at least $420,000 for Milwaukee to keep these programs going for the 2003 – 2004 school year (or $800,000 if the Bush cut goes through). 

 

  1. Leadership:  Our elected officials must convene and lead meetings of all the CLC stakeholders to devise a plan for sustainable funding over the long term, leveraging more funds for CLCs from business, philanthropy, and city, county, state and federal government.  All these stakeholders need to step up to fund Milwaukee’s Community Learning Centers on an ongoing basis.  County and city funds can come from health care, child care, Community Development Block Grants and other sources earmarked for lower income people.  And business and philanthropy need to accept their responsibility to meet the needs for afterschool care for all children in our community.  Without these key investments, CLCs – and our kids – can’t succeed. 

For more information, please contact:

Citizen Action of Milwaukee (414) 272-2562 ext. 217 or 213   Teresa Thomas Boyd ttboyd@wi-citizenaction.org  

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