Steinhardt’s Institute for Education and Social Policy (IESP) recently released a policy brief, “Public Funding for Comprehensive After-School Programs, 1998-2008,” showing that since 1998, city, state, and federal support of after-school programming in New York City has steadily increased, from about $23 million in 1998 to nearly $300 million this year.
Researchers at IESP, which conducts nonpartisan scientific research on education and social issues, analyzed an array of data measuring city, state, and federal spending on after-school programs. They document that since 1998, every level of government established initiatives to expand the availability and quality of programs that kids can attend every school day, generally for three hours a day, while their parents work. Eight times more city students, in kindergarten through high school, now attend daily, comprehensive programs that provide them with educational, cultural, and recreational opportunities than did a decade ago.
“The data show that all levels of government have provided increased public dollars for after-school programs, not only keeping pace with the increasing number of New York City children participating in these programs, but also increasing the amount of money available for each participant,” said Meryle Weinstein, the Institute’s assistant director.
A turning point came in 2005, when New York City launched the municipally funded Out-of-School Time (OST) Initiative to create a system of high quality programs supported through a sustained funding stream.
“This policy brief provides independent confirmation that the creation of an after-school system is one of the most successful private-public initiatives ever to benefit New York City kids,” said Lucy N. Friedman, the president of The After-School Corporation (TASC). “It is a testament both to the vision of the Open Society Institute — which provided the challenge grant to establish TASC and to advocate for after-school to become a responsibility — and to the power of government and private institutions working together to achieve transformative public policy change on behalf of the kids and families in New York City.”
She noted that Friday, October 16, is LightsOn Afterschool, a national rally to support the expansion of after-school programs for all kids who need them. The policy brief concludes that about 160,000 of New York’s 1.1 million public school students attend comprehensive after-school programs.
“As we brace for tough economic times, families in distress and working parents need to know their after-school programs will be there for their kids,” Friedman said. “TASC is working to build on this decade of momentum to find new partners and resources to expand these essential programs, and to work with policymakers and our community partners to get the greatest benefits from every dollar spent on programs that support, motivate, and inspire kids.”
The Open Society Institute, led by George Soros, is a foundation that aims to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights and economic, legal and social reform. In 1998, after-school programs in New York were of variable quality, and few public resources were devoted to programs that served kids daily with a variety of activities. OSI issued a $125 million challenge grant to establish TASC, a nonprofit organization. TASC set out to develop after-school programs that demonstrably benefit children and youth, with the goal of demonstrating that large numbers of children can be served in high-quality programs organized into systems. TASC has since advocated for after-school and summer programs to be institutionalized as an essential service for kids in New York City, the state and the nation, with public agencies taking primary responsibility to fund these programs.
New York City now provides about two-thirds of all public funding for after-school programs in New York City. OST programs are administered by the city Department of Youth and Community Development. The federal government provides approximately a quarter of the funding for programs in the city, and state government provides approximately 8 percent.