The United States Needs More Funding for After-School Programs

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Very few children have a parent in the home on a full-time basis. While many mothers used to be able to stay at home to care for their children, currently, most need to be in the workforce. In some cases, fathers may choose to be the stay-at-home parent in order to care for their children; however, given the present economy, both parents usually need to be fully-employed. This situation is even more critical for single parents, especially when they don’t receive child support or other assistance.

Recent data shows that 70.5% of mothers are working. This includes 64.8% of mothers with 1 or more children 6 years of age or younger. While approximately 23.4% of children aged 5 and under are attending some type of day care program, preschool, or other organized child care situation, others don’t have access for a variety of reasons, which includes a lack of affordable after-school programs.

The importance of having well-organized after school care programs cannot be stressed enough. There are approximately 11.3 million children in the United States that need to care for themselves after school. While 10.2 million children are enrolled in after school care, there are another 19.4 million children that would participate if programs were available, according to a parent survey. Since only 6 out of 10 kindergarten programs provide full-day programs, the need for after school care for these children is also extremely crucial.

While federally subsidized child care programs are available, only 22% of children from low-income families are receiving this care. According to a 2014 Pew research Center report, low-income families pay a significantly larger percentage of their income for childcare than their higher-income counterparts.

Data from the Pew Research Center report indicates that for families earning less than $18,000 a year, they are spending roughly 40% of this income for child care expenses. Families with higher incomes, however, are only spending 7.2% of their annual income to provide child care for their children.

Over 2/3 of Americans believe that the private sector and the government could be doing more to assist working families with their child care expenses. Furthermore, these individuals also believe that these sectors should be doing more to provide funding.

In addition to providing a safe place for children to learn, receive homework assistance, interact with children their own age, and participate in other enriching activities, having quality after school care programs provides important preventative measures.

At-risk children tend to drop out of high school when they don’t receive a quality preschool education, according to the Ounce of Prevention Fund. This was found to be the case with 25% of at-risk children. Furthermore, these children are also more likely to become teen parents, more likely to be arrested for the commission of a violent crime, and less likely to attend or complete college.

When children receive a quality early childhood education, along with well-designed after school child care programs, they have a greater chance to succeed in elementary school and beyond. Early education is an integral part of ensuring that children receive the care and assistance that they need to thrive. Furthermore, a quality after school care program will provide individualized learning plans for children so that they have a greater chance to succeed scholastically.