A new survey suggests that both after-school programs and their young clients are feeling the pinch of the economic recession.
For its report, which was released last week, the Afterschool Alliance, a Washington-based group that promotes after-school programs, surveyed nearly 1,500 leaders of such programs around the country in April and May.
Nearly all the respondents—95 percent—said the recession is affecting their communities, with 60 percent reporting that they are seeing more children who are hungry or more families struggling to put food on the table.
At the same time, the survey also shows, an average of three out of five program leaders are facing decreased funding levels compared with those of two years ago.
In response to the drop in funding, just under a third of the program officials said they are either cutting field trips, reducing activities, decreasing staff benefits and pay, or doing some combination of those things. Fees have also been increased or added at 38 percent of the programs surveyed and leaders of 28 percent of the programs said they have increased their programs’ student-to-staff ratios.
“When programs must charge or raise fee or reduce hours, more children will be unsupervised and at risk,” writes Jodi Grant, the alliance’s executive director. “We have to do better by our kids.”
A version of this article appeared in the June 17, 2009 edition of Education Week