Quality afterschool programs offer more than just supervision. Quality programs offer a variety of activities and curriculum to meet most every kids interests and abilities. Not only do quality afterschool programs have an impact on educational achievement, social development, and child safety, these programs have been found to positively impact the behavior and social skills of children and youth who attend.
Studies have found that afterschool participants are more assertive, less aggressive, and better at resolving conflicts. Participants tend to have better peer interactions, and less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drinking alcohol, taking illegal drugs, smoking, and teenage sexual activity. In addition, they are less likely to hang out in gangs or participate in serious crimes than their unsupervised peers
With all these studies showing the benefits of afterschool programs, one would think every child would have the opportunity to participate. Not the case! Not even close! Almost 25% of Florida’s K-12 youth are responsible for taking care of themselves after school? These children spend an average of 15 hours per week unsupervised. What are the consequences?
A Fight Crime: Invest in Kids study found that violent juvenile crime “suddenly triples” in the hour after school lets out. In addition, the study discovered that between the hours of 2-6 p.m., kids are most likely to become victims of violent crime; be killed in a car accident; be killed by household or other accidents; get hooked on alcohol and cigarettes; experiment with other dangerous drugs; and engage in sexual activities.
In an economy where ever organization is fighting for funding, quality afterschool programs should be a priority. A 2008 Presidential Campaign poll found that 76% of voters want state and local officials to increase funding for afterschool, believe afterschool is important to curbing the dropout rate and think afterschool programs are important to preparing our future workforce. 83% believed there should be some type of organized activity or safe place for kids to go afterschool every day.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) in a study of 73 afterschool programs found that that afterschool programs succeeded in improving youths’ feelings of self confidence and self esteem. They also reduced problem behaviors (e.g. aggression, non-compliance and conduct problems) and drug use. In sum, afterschool programs produced multiple benefits that pertain to youths’ personal, social and academic life.
There are so many benefits of quality afterschool programs. Investing in afterschool programs is investing in our children’s futures. Is there any better investment?