Study: More youth in Arizona attend summer learning programs

Afterschool excellence

Participation in Arizona summer learning programs has increased in the last five years, but there is still tremendous unmet demand, according to data from the America After 3PM study.

An Afterschool Alliance survey found that 35 percent of Arizona families reported at least one child participated in a summer learning program in 2013, compared with 22 percent in 2008.

Nationally, 33 percent of families have at least one child in a summer learning program, up from 25 percent in 2008.

Despite the progress at the state and national levels, the demand for summer programs far exceeds the rate of participation.

The America After 3PM household survey conducted in 2014 includes responses from more than 30,000 U.S. families, including 261 in Arizona where parents reported on their children’s 2013 participation in summer learning programs.

“Summer is critically important for parents who want to ensure their children are safe and involved in quality programs offering activities that inspire, enrich and that build their child’s skills for success in school and in life,” said Melanie McClintock, executive director of the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence.

“Arizona’s rate of increased participation in summer programming is significant, but meeting the unmet demand is a challenge we must address. We know that 34 percent of parents want more out-of-school time programming in the state.”

Ms. McClintock said the Arizona Quality Standards for Out-of-School Time Programs and the Arizona Quality Self-Assessment Tool are new assets to outline and measure what quality out-of-school time programs look like and will “pay great dividends in providing additional quality opportunities. But that doesn’t address the immediate need.”

At the same time, AzCASE has created a free, comprehensive online Arizona Afterschool Directory with more than 1,450 out-of-school time programs.  It is state’s only directory searchable in both English and Spanish with information about location, services, ages of youth served and other criteria through a map-based interface.

“The numbers are clear. Demand far outstrips the supply of summer programs,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant.

“That’s also the case with the afterschool programs from which many summer learning programs spring. We’re not reaching nearly as many children as we could, and some of them will be at a disadvantage in the classroom next fall as a result.”

Research shows that summer learning loss is a significant contributor to the achievement gap; students from low-income families typically lose two to three months in reading achievement and two months of math skills during the summer months.

America After 3PM, available online, includes national findings as well as state-by-state breakouts of data regarding how children and youth spend their time after school and during the summer. Key findings related to summer learning programs in Arizona include:

  • Unmet demand. The demand for these programs far exceeds supply. While 54 percent of Arizona parents report that they would like their child to participate in a summer learning program, just 35 percent of parents report having at least one child in a program. Nationally, 51 percent of parents say they would like their child to participate.
  • Strong public support for funding for summer learning programs. 87 percent of Arizona parents support public funding for summer learning programs. Nationally, 85 percent support public funding, and support is at or above 75 percent in every state.
  • Costs vary widely from state to state. The average weekly cost to parents for a summer learning program in Arizona is $414, compared with a national average of $288 per week. State-to-state variance is enormous, with average per-week costs to families ranging from $115 (Idaho) to $639 per week (Nevada). Variations may be due to program intensity and length, local staffing and facilities costs, transportation, and other factors.
  • How many hours per day for how many weeks? Nationally, children participate in summer learning programs an average of five hours per day for five weeks. In Arizona, children participate an average of four hours per day for five weeks. Across the states, average summer learning program participation rates range from three to six hours per day for between four and six weeks.

“By failing to create, fund and sustain summer programs, we’re not only forfeiting the chance to prevent summer learning loss, we’re deepening the achievement gap that makes it difficult for some children to learn what they need to succeed in school and in life,” Ms. Grant added.

“These programs also give students valuable opportunities to be physically active; learn to garden, cook healthy meals and explore new interests; and support their communities through service projects.”

In October 2014, the Afterschool Alliance released findings from America After 3PM related to children’s participation in afterschool programs. That data revealed a dramatic increase in participation over the past decade, from 6.5 million to 10.2 million children.

The survey also documented a vast and growing unmet demand for afterschool programs, with the parents of 19.4 million children reporting that they would enroll their child in a program, if one were available.

National and state-by-state results from that report and from this special release are available at www.afterschoolalliance.org/AA3PM/.

Nonprofits, school districts, mayors and libraries are expected to host some 700 events for Summer Learning Day, on June 19. For more information, visit the website of the National Summer Learning Association, http://www.summerlearning.org/.

Findings from America After 3PM are based on in-depth interviews with 13,709 households with children, completed by way of an online survey using a blend of national consumer panels. Shugoll Research collected and analyzed the data for America After 3PM. In order to participate, respondents had to live in the United States and be the guardians of a school-age child living in their household.

All interviews were completed between Feb. 28 and April 17, 2014.

America After 3PM is funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Noyce Foundation, with additional support from the Heinz Endowments, The Robert Bowne Foundation and the Samueli Foundation.

The Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence is dedicated to improving access to high quality out-of-school learning opportunities for Arizona children and youth through professional development, advocacy and community capacity building.

The Arizona Center is one of 38 statewide afterschool networks nationwide supported by the C.S. Mott Foundation.  For more information, visit www.azafterschool.org.

The Afterschool Alliance is a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children and youth have access to quality afterschool programs.

More information is available at www.AfterschoolAlliance.org.

The Scottsdale Independent is published monthly and mailed to 75,000 homes and businesses in Scottsdale.

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