1 Million young kids are left alone after school.
Dust off the backpacks and dig out the lunch sacks – back to school time is just weeks away. And, working parents across this country are spending these last few weeks arranging, searching, and confirming afterschool care.
Unfortunately, many parents don’t succeed in finding afterschool care for their kids . More than 1 million children in grades K to 5 are on their own after school. This huge and heartbreaking number isn’t because of parent neglect, rather it reflects a simple fact: Afterschool programs are unavailable or too expensive for millions of families across this country.
And it could get much worse. Congress is deciding right now if they're going to divert funds and slash afterschool programs across this country. That's right. Congress is busy writing their education legislation, which includes afterschool programs, and they're likely to finish before they go home in August.
Why do afterschool programs matter?
Afterschool programs keep our kids safe. The hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are when children are most at risk for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex.
Afterschool programs also have a big impact on our economy. Parents who are concerned about their children being unattended after school miss an average of eight days of work per year. Decreased worker productivity related to parental concerns about after school care costs businesses up to $300 billion per year.
As Congress reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), it's imperative that they don't divert funds from 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to afterschool programs. The initiative supports afterschool programs for 1,798,986 children and youth across this country. And every one of them counts.
We have less than a week to speak up for afterschool programs. Contact your legislators before they go home for their summer break: