North Carolina after 3 pm: Afterschool programs rank 6th nationally
From supporting social, emotional, and academic development, to providing a safe and supportive environment, afterschool programs have been a vital resource for students and their parents, especially during COVID-19. North Carolina is ranked among the top 10 states in afterschool programs and number 1 for parent satisfaction. National and statewide leaders and a parent and director from a local program discuss more about this report and the work that still needs to be done.
Welcome to education matters presented by the Public School Forum of North Carolina. I'm your host, Maryanne Wolf, from supporting social, emotional and academic development to providing a safe and supportive environment after school programs have been a vital source for students and parents, especially during Cove. In 19, North Carolina is ranked among the top 10 states and after school programs and number one for parents Satisfaction to discuss more about this report and the work that still needs to be done. We have national and statewide leaders and apparent and director from a local program with us today. I'd like to welcome to the show Jen Reinhardt, the senior vice president of research and policy at the After School Alliance, and Dr Sheronda Fleming, the director of the North Carolina Center for After School Programs. Thank you both for being here with us. Thank you. Thanks for having us, Jen. I wonder if we could get started with you telling us what is the America after three report and why is it so important? Sure, I'd love Thio America after 3 p.m. Is a national study that tells us how many young people are in after school programs. How many more would be in programs? How many young people are unsupervised during the hours after 3 p.m. It's the most comprehensive look at how young people in America spend their after school hours. The study includes more than 30,000 households, including 927 in North Carolina, representing 2000 North Carolina young people and their after school experiences. America after three PM was first conducted starting back in 2004, and we do the study every 5 to 6 years so that we can really monitor trends in participation in after school and demand for after school programs. So from the study, we learned really important details about how many young people are in after school programs. How many more would be of programs were available, how many Children are unsupervised during the hours after school and important perceptions from parents about the benefits of participating in after school programs and what parents want public officials to dio to better support after school opportunities for families and for young people from our most recent round of America after three PM, which was just released last month so very much hot off the press information here, we find that there are more young people than ever who are going without after school opportunities. So today there are 25 million young people whose parents say would be in an after school program if an after school will program were available to them and for every one child in a program, there are three more Children who would be in programs if programs were available. We also find troubling in equities. So while that national number alone is, you know, concerning the inequities air terribly concerning in this with black and Latin X Children and families really disproportionately impacted by this lack of access and low income families overall are also affected. Three out of five low income families say that cost is a barrier to their participation in after programs. But the good news here is that for those who are fortunate enough to participate in after school programs, they show the highest levels of satisfaction in the history of America after three PM So parents are really pleased with the after school opportunities that they're young people are getting, and they recognize a wide range of benefits from participation in programs from keeping kids safe to giving kids valuable life skill, building opportunities and academic skill. Building opportunities and also giving working parents that keep peace of mind that we know that they need in order to continue to be productive during the after school hours. But it's clear from the data that we've really failed to adequately support after school opportunities across our nation. And even in North Carolina, we know that every parent should have access to a quality affordable after school opportunity, and the data make it clear that that just isn't the case today. Thank you so much for providing all of that background and also that national perspective. Um, Sharonda. I wonder if you could tell us a little more about what the most recent report reveals about the out of school time landscape in North Carolina. Specifically? Absolutely. So, according to the most recent reports, North Carolina is in the top 10 states where after school across the nation, specifically coming in at number six overall. And so this lets us know that Children across North Carolina that have access to programs are having a positive experience. They're doing things like life, skill building and flooring. Um, you know their interest in careers doing things like stem and computer science. You know, they're having help with their homework taking part in physical activities. And another thing is that they're receiving healthy snacks and meals and their programs. They have an opportunity to engage with their peers and develop those key and critical social and emotional skills as well. Also, the most recent report reveal that, as Jin highlighted, parent satisfaction is key. And particularly in North Carolina. We ranked number one overall in guards of parents satisfaction, with 96% of parents across the state of North Carolina being extremely satisfied with their child's program, and this is above the national average of 94%. And so you know, factors that relate to that, you know, satisfaction level are things like making sure that their child has a safe and supportive environment in their program and then also feelings. Though the staff in the program are both knowledgeable and caring. And so, you know, for working parents across the state of North Carolina, as Jane highlighted, is ensuring that they have peace of mind when they're working. They're not worried that their Children are unsupervised are, you know, you know, engage in activities that they shouldn't be in there in a safe and supportive environment. And this helps the working parents across North Carolina keep their jobs and also be ableto work additional hours of needed. And so we're really excited about what this report revealed for North Carolina. Specifically, it is very exciting to hear from our state's perspective. And I wonder, Sharonda, did the report reveal any growth areas for North Carolina? Yes, it did. Going back to what Jen mentioned, we found that unmet demand has skyrocketed both nationally and within the state of North Carolina. According to the most recent reports, when it was last released in 2000 and 14 for everyone, Child participated in the program. There were two waiting to get in, and now, as Jim mentioned, that number has grown by one. So for every one child, there's now three waiting to get in or wanting to get in. But there's not programs in their communities available to them, or that you know the cost is too. You know too much for their families, too burdensome for their families. And so that number, you know, Jen mentioned 25 million nationally youth that are in programs and for North Carolina, that is, 666 1000 youth across the state that are not engaged in programs. And this has grown, um, significantly over the last decade by 200,000. And so there's a huge demand for programs. And we need to, you know, figure out wage to make sure that all youth across the state have access to the programs that are both affordable, like they need to be affordable for families is not enough to just have programs if parents aren't able to afford them. And it's even worse if there aren't even programs available. And so this highlights a great area of growth for the state. Also, you know, this report was, you know, conducted prior to Cove in, and we knew prior to that that parents wanted, you know, both academic support, but they found great, um, support in programs for social and emotional development for their Children. And now we know in the midst of a pandemic, you know, our Children are struggling academically. They're struggling with social and emotional development, and they're dealing with the hardship in trauma being in a pandemic. You know, it's affecting adults alike as well as our Children. And so there's a huge need for programs to, you know, step in and be a key partner in this process, you know, within the midst of Kobe and also beyond thank you and Jen in our last minute, what can be done to address this unmet demand that Sharonda was describing and other barriers to access for youth in North Carolina and nationally. Yeah, that's a great question. I think now is really the time for us to be smart and invest in our future, right? There's no question that after school programs are smart investment for kids, for families, for our workforce, for our economy, for our communities and our nation overall. And there's an enormous body of research that shows us that after school programs really help Children succeed in school and in life. And we know from America after three that parents recognize the benefits of participation in after school programs and support more investments in after school. 87% of parents want more public funding for after school programs, and that's the highest level of support that we've seen recorded in the history of America after 3 p.m. And most importantly, it crosses demographic and political divides. With 91% of Democrats, 87% of independence and 85% of Republicans saying they support public funding for after school in North Carolina. That support is even greater Ondas greater overall as well as among independents and Republicans than what we see at the national level. So even with those high levels of support, we haven't seen funding keep up with the demand that we find in America after three PM So there is still much work to be done despite the progress that North Carolina is made since 2014, much more work to be done in the state and nationally, and we know that publicly funded programs have been a lifeline for low income families. But the data make it clear that we're not doing enough to keep up with the demand and that we need governments at all levels, businesses, philanthropy, really all of our sectors to come together and recognize the key value of after school opportunities and help invest in those so that all kids have access to after school programs. Well, thank you both So much for what you do every single day and to keep making sure that our students have opportunities and growing those and for being here with us. After the break, we will be joined by a program director and apparent in an after school program here in North Carolina. Thank you. Education matters is brought to you each week in part by town bank serving, others enriching lives. Joining us now. Our Caroline Ross Homes, the program director at J 3 16 Camp Connect program, and Tracy Thorpe, a parent at J 3 16 Camp Connect program. Camp Connect is one of the North Carolina center for after school programs. Power up programs. Thank you both for being here today. Thank you for having us. Thank you so much, Caroline. I'd love to start with you, and I'd love to hear a little more about the J 3 16 Camp Connect program. The J 3 16 Camp Connect program is one of the programs that we offer here. The John 3 16 Center Ah facility, D B A for child abuse, Resource and education were located in Littleton, North Carolina, which is in Halifax County, and we've been here for over 15 years. Serving families with Children in Halifax worn in North Hampton counties and I, after school in summer camp are for Children in grades first grade and, uh, wonderful. And according to the America after three PM report, Youth in North Carolina, who are fortunate enough to take part in the program are receiving critical supports and are provided opportunities to learn life skills and many, many other things. What supports and opportunities does your program afford in your community? Well, our program, our content includes, you know, the typical homework help. We do stem projects, and we have devotion. But one of the ones that I features that I really feel strongly about is the social and emotional interaction and support that is shared during when we have our meals or snack. And it's a time for those conversations for us to just check in with each other and have an understanding about some of the challenges they may be having with schoolwork and even identify where we may be able to offer more support or just let them enjoy chatting with one another. That's wonderful, wonderful, And, um, I know that Ah, lot of really everything in education has had to adjust due to Cove in 19, as in our world. And I just one last question, Caroline, And I'm curious. How did your program have to adjust with co vid? Oh, my goodness. First of all, we had an awesome team. And when you have good teamwork, we just decided to approach the pivot with co vet to just embrace it and be innovative. And so we figured since it started off in March while we were still in our after school segment, that's when we first were introduced to the whole zone platform. So we started out there and then after we had an understanding of how we could really use this platform, is when we started planning for our summer program and to get the buzz going in the community about these virtual experiences. We had a naming contest for the summer camp. So J 3, 16 Camp Connect was a result of one of the young people in the community that one for naming the camp itself. And then, um, we started collaborating with organizations and professionals to really enrich the content that we were gonna offer because we knew it was a challenge. How could we now transfer what we were doing in the building into the homes of the Children that we were serving and still make it engaging and something that they wanted to do? So we were very fortunate in terms of connecting with working landscapes. And we did food and nutrition, fruits and vegetables of the season and, uh, lessons with that, and it also became a part about cooking segment. Then we also continued with offering stem projects that we did robotics. They made a solar car. Um, Then we engaged our local theater and the art director. He did. Actors warm up with them and they were introduced Other opportunities within the world of the arts Cooperative extension. They supply this again with another segment for for our cooking, we did arts and crafts and the devotions devotions was something that was taken very seriously today. Um, Children had a chance to journal about their feelings and we did something I think was extra special. We even did Zumba and the instructor. She zoomed in from Greenville. We had yoga, she zoomed, and from from Robert and so they wonder why you pack into this. This is the fun part. So we had these great big toast plastic clear toes, and within the toads we had two gallon sized Ziploc bags that contained all of the materials for that day. So Monday through Friday, bag containing each of the arts impressed the devotions, the stem projects and even their snack. And then in a brown paper bag, the grocery bag had the contents of all of the ingredients that they would need for their cooking segment each day. And, needless to say, to make it even more special because everybody likes toe be properly attired for when they're gonna cook. So they even had had the digestive tract on it and chef hat. So, needless to say, it was an awesome experience. The we even incorporated a jump rope challenge, so the kids weren't always in their seats, so they were either doing jump rope where they were doing the Zilber or they were doing yoga. And it was it was awesome. And then to hear parents. I don't know what y'all doing with these babies, but there is tired of it. They had gone out of the house for a year. So it was. It was just an awesome experience of the volunteers, the guest presenters, but our camp counselors became a zoom. Personalities kept a kept clicking, so it was an awesome experience. And it's something that we're going to continue to do even once Cove it is over there. I'm sure there are features that we experience with this virtual nous that we can incorporate down the road well, and I see Tracy here nodding, and I have a feeling that means your Children were part of this. So I love the innovation, Caroline, and I'm grateful for it. Um, and Tracy is a parent of a 12 year old daughter and a 10 year old son in the J 3 16 program. What is the value of their engagement in this program and all that? Caroline was just sharing with us where the value that I found it for my Children had to do with social emotional because we're doing so. I mean, we're doing doom, and everything is virtual. There's not a lot of social interaction, you know, when my Children are in class, they're told to sit quietly, and they only talk when the teacher calls them. They're not allowed to make a connection with other students. Is a likeness, Carl was saying. One of the best things about it is in the afternoon. They know they can go on June. They could go to J 3 16 and they can talk. They talk all over each other. They're talking about their day, what they want to do, what they missed. When it comes to the different adults that are facilitating activities, they going and all and trying to keep up with the actors. They are jumping rope. They're doing everything that they can't do in school right now. There are able to get it in about that hour and 45 minutes, and I think that is absolutely amazing. And I also love the devotion. That's one thing, since we aren't able to go to church like we used to, and I don't want my Children to hear one point of view. I want them well rounded and everything. And Drake, basic 3 16 definitely helped with that. Wow! And you know, according to the America after three PM report, which we heard about in our first segment today, North Carolina is ranked number one overall for parents satisfaction, which is amazing. And as a parent, how do you define satisfaction with your child's program and what is needed from programs to really maintain this? Well, for number one with the satisfaction is how my Children are excited about going to Jason 3 16, how they're like Mom, we got everything we need. Mom, you make sure that you know we need to cut up something. Or for my daughter, she has a nut allergy so that when Miss Carlin and other people that work at J 3 16 stand or bring their snack, her bag is either has a star on it or a sticker on it that lets us know that this is for Joseph things. So make sure what is in here is just for her. But we kept her things separate. So for me, it's knowing that they're not only paying attention, but they're being proactive and reactive with my request. As far as keeping parents satisfaction, I know we could always achieve a higher goal, even at being the number one and trying to stay at number one. I think it's that open communication, even with my Children are on the program in the afternoon, Whether I'm walking through a different room or hearing them talk, they're asking me, you know, Is everything okay, Miss Court? Um, Josephine or Jimmy saying, You know, is there anything else that we can do? So I love the open communication. I think that's one of the best things that have going forward, and we have a couple more seconds. And Tracy, I wonder if you would share what you think has been your one of your Children's favorite thing that they've been able to do with J. 3 16. Besides the social interaction? Well, my son loves snacking that he highly covered his meals when we were able to go and get meals he wanted. But he would have to look through his bags to make sure everything was in there for my daughter. Her. I think her favorite part is talking with other adults. Um, she's one of the older Children in the program, so she feels she's too old for the younger Children as faras hearing them. But I know she definitely enjoys talking to Miss Aramis Curls, and I'm so glad she has other adults like I said, one of the best thing is making them well rounded. So with my son, he's asking about, um, Did you put some candy? Um, did you put, um, does my snack bag have and my daughter? She loves talking to the adult. That's wonderful. Well, thank you both so much for what you do and for sharing with us and just bringing this passion you both have. I love it. Um, we're so glad you're here. And after the break, this week's final word the value of programs that support students outside of the traditional school day here in North Carolina is clear. The After School Alliance, a national organization based in Washington, D. C. Finds that we rank in the top 10 states in the nation when it comes to after school programs, and overall parent satisfaction ranks us first out of all 50 states quality program that supports students outside of the traditional school day is critical to student success, and during our cove in 19 our communities air relying on these innovative enrichment programs more than ever before. When school buildings closed their doors at the beginning of the pandemic, many programs remained open to provide care for essential workers Children. Our after school programs across North Carolina have truly risen to the moment during Cove in 19 to partner with schools, provide Karen meals and develop and deliver virtual programming online for students staying home. Yet we also know that unmet demand for these programs, which is the percentage of North Carolina parents who say they would enroll their child in an after school program if one were available to them, remains very high, especially among low income families who report cost is a significant barrier for every child in an after school program in North Carolina today, three more are waiting to get in, and that unmet need is even more stark in rural communities across our state. The significant unmet demand is an unfortunate reality because communities face major funding constraints when it comes to ensuring North Carolina has a robust infrastructure to support after school programs. In spite of the fact that for every dollar spent on after school programs, we know there is a $3 return on that investment. To ensure all those who want their Children to participate in after school programs, air ableto have that access it will take increased federal and state investments. Fortunately, these programs have bipartisan support, and that's because the things that these programs serve promoting workforce development, increasing community safety, promoting leadership and skill development in providing greater support for working families are things we can agree are critical to the success of our local communities as the world continues to respond to Cove in 19. Now, more than ever, we must continue to advocate for and support education programs in North Carolina and across the nation. That's all for today, and we'll see you next week.