By Michael Karpman
Research shows that high-quality afterschool and summer programs help cities keep children and youth safe when they are not in school, discourage substance abuse and juvenile crime, and improve student attendance and academic achievement. The benefits are especially large for youth ages 11-18 – those in middle and high school – who need learning supports to keep them on track toward graduation and are more prone to risky behavior.
Yet many cities struggle to provide sufficient afterschool opportunities for older youth that are accessible and relevant to their interests. To assist city leaders who are working to expand the number of high-quality programs for this population, NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families (YEF) has published a new guide on City Strategies to Engage Older Youth in Afterschool Programs, with support from The Wallace Foundation.
Because of their greater child care needs, communities often focus their afterschool efforts on younger children. Programs for older youth may be limited, inaccessible by public transportation, or not well advertised. Moreover, middle and high school age youth have more autonomy to choose how they spend their time after school. If high-quality programs are not available or do not fit their needs, these youth may miss out on valuable opportunities for learning and growth during the non-school hours.
The new NLC guide identifies four strategies that city leaders can use to increase afterschool program participation among older youth:
NLC’s new strategy guide is part of a series developed with support from The Wallace Foundation. Other strategy guides in the series include: Collecting and Using Information to Strengthen Citywide Out-of-School Time Systems; Strengthening Partnerships and Building Public Will for Out-of-School Time Programs; and Financial Strategies to Support Citywide Systems of Out-of-School Time Programs. Additional afterschool resources are available through the YEF Institute section of the NLC website at www.nlc.org/iyef.
Details: City officials interested in learning more about strategies to improve and expand afterschool programming for children and youth can contact Bela Shah Spooner (202-626-3057, firstname.lastname@example.org), Kim Eisenreich (202-626-3035, email@example.com), or Imani Hope (202-626-3180 or firstname.lastname@example.org) at the YEF Institute.