School programs

Demand for after-school programs at an all-time high

Unmet demand for afterschool programs in Nebraska has reached an all-time high, according to a new national report from the Afterschool Alliance, which counted more than 60,000 children in the state left unsupervised after school.

Edge Research conducted the survey for the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Alliance. It reflected responses in 2020 from more than 31,000 U.S. parents of school-aged children, including 395 households in Nebraska.

Among the findings was that Nebraska’s unmet demand for after-school programs has grown over the past decade. For every child attending an after-school program, four more children would be waiting to be admitted.

The Alliance said 63% of Nebraska parents surveyed said after-school programs helped their child learn to make responsible decisions, and 91% believed the activities their children engaged in helped build positive relationships with adults and mentors.

Alone and unsupervised

Jeff Cole, of the Nebraska-wide Beyond School Bells network, said after-school programs in the state have ramped up over the past two years to address the challenges created by remote learning. These programs provided young people with advice, take-home activities and other forms of support.

“But we need to do even more to ensure that all students in Nebraska have access to these programs,” Cole said in a press release. “Right now, the unmet demand is great.”

The Alliance report says about 141,000 more Nebraska children would be enrolled in an after-school learning program if it were made available to them. Barriers include cost and accessibility, Alliance advocates said.

“Strong support” for funding

The group cited “strong support” for public funding to expand after-school programs in Nebraska.

Nationally, According to the Alliance report, the number of children in an after-school program has increased from 10.2 million in 2014 to 7.8 million in 2020, while the unmet demand for after-school programs has increased by 60% since 2004 .

The report says that in 2020, 24.6 million children across the country were not participating in an after-school program, but would be enrolled if one was made available to them.

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact editor Cate Folsom with questions: [email protected] Follow the Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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