Out-of-school Time Programs Benefit Children and Families

Jan 27, 2012

By Emily Firgens

More than 15 million children, including 1 million children in grades K through 5, go unsupervised during out of school time. These children are missing out on enormous benefits. A 2009 review of 50 studies of afterschool programs found that quality afterschool care improved attendance in school, helped children better engage in learning, and improved test scores and grades. The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the primary source of federal funding for child care subsidies for low-income working families and to improve child care quality, provides child care assistance, including after school support, to families with children ages birth to 13. In 2009, 34 percent of the children served by CCDBG were school-age, and between the ages of 6 and 13. States use CCDBG funds for a range of activities including training and technical assistance for school-age programs and providers and grants to improve the quality of school-age child care services. Greater investments in consistent, high quality out-of-school time (OST) programs are critical to improving outcomes for children and youth, and can be especially beneficial when designed to meet the unique needs of certain groups, such as children of immigrants.

A recent Child Trends brief examines the importance of focusing OST programs on children of Latino immigrants. Latino children make up the fastest growing segment of the U.S. child population. Nearly 25 percent of U.S. children have at least one parent who was born outside of the country, the majority of whom are Latino. Latino families are also overrepresented among poor families, and Latino children are more likely to have parents who work long, irregular hours or late shifts.

OST programs focused on children of Latino immigrants offer academic assistance and access to resources these children might not have at school or home. The OST programs provide much needed cultural support by linking different cultural experiences Latino children have at home and school. These programs can also help connect children of immigrants to any counseling or mental health services they might need. To be effective, programs should be culturally sensitive, aware of the personal and family responsibilities participants might have, affordable, and should address language and communication barriers.

By investing in OST programs, both children and families benefit from the additional learning and supervision. And, by reaching out to specific populations of children such as Latinos, OST programs can be an effective step in helping support the unique educational and social needs that Latino children and children of immigrants experience.       

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