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Unmet Demand for Afterschool Programs Is High in Rural Communities

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Opinions

Graphic Courtesy of Afterschool Alliance

Graphic Courtesy of Afterschool Alliance

Last month, the Afterschool Alliance released a special report, The Growing Importance of Afterschool in Rural Communities (PDF link), which finds that just 13 percent of rural students in the United States (1.2 million) participate in an afterschool program – up from 11 percent in 2009, but considerably below the 18 percent of students who participate in these programs nationwide. Yet, according to a household survey commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance, for every rural child in an afterschool program, the parents of three more say their child would be enrolled, if an afterschool program were available. That puts unmet demand for afterschool programs in rural communities at 39 percent of those not currently enrolled (3.1 million children).

The new report finds the unmet demand is especially high among Hispanic, African-American and low-income rural families. Findings are based on responses collected for America After 3PM from 30,000 U.S. households, including in-depth interviews with more than 13,000 parents and guardians.

“Rural America is as rich and diverse as the country as a whole,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “There are rural communities in all 50 states and many are characterized by strong and enduring social networks and community ties. But persistent poverty, food insecurity, and low education levels also are more common in rural than urban and suburban communities. In fact, in 2014, one in four rural children was living in poverty. Quality afterschool programs keep students safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. They are a valuable gateway to a more secure and successful future, but there aren’t nearly enough afterschool programs to meet the need in rural America. It should be a high priority for our leaders to change that.”

The Growing Importance of Afterschool in Rural Communities offers recommendations to help give children in rural communities the ability to participate in quality afterschool programs. They include:

Get more background and learn more about the methodology for The Growing Importance of Afterschool in Rural Communities, underwritten by John Deere, here.

America After 3PM is funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Noyce Foundation, with additional support from the Heinz Endowments, The Robert Bowne Foundation and the Samueli Foundation.

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