Before and Afterschool Programs
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Communities across the state are working together with new energy and inspiration to create a more positive future for Iowa's children and youth. The focus is on constructive learning activities during non-school hours. With caring adult guidance, school and community-based academic and youth development programs result in greater achievement and social outcomes for children and youth.
Before and afterschool programs have the potential to make a significant contribution to the following “Results for Iowa Youth” in the positive development of all the state’s children and youth:
- All Iowa children and youth are healthy and socially competent.
- All Iowa children and youth succeed in school
- All Iowa children and youth are prepared for productive adulthood.
- All youth have the benefit of safe and supportive families, schools, and communities.
Quality before and afterschool programs can provide safe, engaging environments that complement the school day by promoting learning to improve student outcomes. While there is no one single formula for success in after school programs, both practitioners and researchers have found that effective programs combine academic, enrichment, cultural, and recreational activities to guide learning and engage children and youth in wholesome activities. They also find that the best programs develop activities to meet the particular needs of the communities they serve.
Types of Activities Found in Quality Before and Afterschool Programs
- Tutoring and supplementing instruction in basic skills, such as reading, math, and science
- Drug and violence prevention curricula and counseling
- Youth leadership and character building activities
- Volunteer and community service opportunities
- College awareness and preparation
- Homework assistance centers
- Courses and enrichment in arts and culture
- Computer instruction
- Language instruction, including English as a second language
- Employment preparation or training
- Mentoring and service-learning
- Activities linked to law enforcement
- Supervised recreation and enrichment programs and events
- Physical fitness, nutrition, and obesity prevention programs and activities
Looking at the spectrum of before and afterschool programs, researchers and practitioners have identified some common elements necessary to developing high quality programs that meet the needs of the diverse population of school-age children and youth.
Common Elements of Quality Before and Afterschool Programs
In addition to the desired results that focus the work, the Common Elements listed below represent nationally recognized standards on which quality before and afterschool programs are based. While programs should be oriented toward achievement of the four (4) result areas, the principles of quality programs should support all program design.
- The program is a combination of academic, enrichment, cultural, and recreational activities that guide learning and engage children and youth in wholesome activities
- Goal setting and strong management
- Planning for long-term sustainability
- Quality after school staffing
- Attention to safety, health, and nutrition issues
- Effective partnerships
- Strong involvement of families
- Extended learning opportunities
- Linkages between school-day and after school personnel
- Evaluation of program progress and effectiveness
Quality Standards for Before and Afterschool Programs
The Iowa Afterschool Alliance (IAA) sought to develop standards of quality for Iowa's afterschool programs because of up until September of 2008, no single approach to quality programming and administration existed that could be utilized by the whole range of programs that provide services to children and youth in Iowa.
The IAA Quality Work Group has developed a set of 10 standards and 88 corresponding indicators of quality afterschool programming and administration that can be immediately implemented by programs of all types, locations, and funding streams. More information can be found on the IAA Afterschool Quality webpage.
Afterschool in Iowa
The following report summary and appendix present the findings of two surveys about before and afterschool in Iowa. Surveys were provided to parents with children in high quality programs and school district leaders (school superintendents and school board presidents) across the state. The surveys found that, although afterschool is highly valuable to Iowans, multiple barriers exist for accessing high quality programming, and partnerships at the local and state levels are critical to sustaining successful, school-linked programming that benefits youth, families, communities, and the state.
Iowa's Blueprint for Afterschool
The Iowa's Blueprint for Afterschool document outlines five strategies for ensuring access to affordable high-quality afterschool in Iowa for children and youth ages 5-17. It is designed to serve as a tool for policymakers to use in partnership with local stakeholders to identify the core elements of effective delivery of quality afterschool programs in Iowa so all youth and families have access to such opportunities in their community.
Funding for Before and Afterschool Programs in Iowa
In Iowa, before and afterschool programs are funded by state and federal money. These funds are provided to local organizations to support quality before and afterschool programs.
State Funded Programs
From 2006-2008 the Iowa Legislative Session appropriated funding to expand the availability of before and afterschool programs in Iowa, including but not limited to summer programs. Programs were awarded funds through a competitive grant process. Eligible applicants were school districts, as well as other public and private organizations. Due to budget constraints the Iowa Legislature is not currently appropriating funding to this program.
Federal Funded Programs
21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) - With the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the administration of the distribution of funding for the 21st CCLC program has been devolved to the states. The program supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools.