Editor’s Note: Welcome our newest Breakfast Club Blogger Jen Dietrich. Jen is the Director of Policy for Partnership for Children & Youth and the coordinator of the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance (CA3) and the Save Afterschool Campaign.
This month, we will learn if state-funded afterschool programs will be given the funding they need to survive. After School Education and Safety (ASES) programs across California are struggling to provide the high-quality support that more than 400,000 children and families count on every day. After more than a decade of under-funding, nearly 1 in 4 ASES programs are on the verge of closing their doors in 2020. Without additional funding, approximately 91,000 students who currently have a safe space to spend their after-school hours will need to find another place to go.
Politicians in the Capitol “like” afterschool, but will they make it a priority in the budget due June 15th?
Since 2015, the Save Afterschool Campaign has urged the Legislature and Governor to give ASES the funding it needs to keep pace with the rising minimum wage and cost of living. A number of politicians in Sacramento have personal connections with afterschool programs and many highlighted the need for more afterschool programs during their campaign, including Gavin Newsom. He ran on a platform to alleviate childhood poverty that included afterschool as a key strategy. But his 2019 budget proposals left afterschool with no additional funding. For years, afterschool programs have not received enough funding to cover the increased wages they need to pay staff as the minimum wages rises. Programs are having to stretch their resources thinner than ever.
Strength in numbers
The members of the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance (CA3) and the network of supporters of the Save Afterschool Campaign have come together this year to fight to make afterschool a priority and not an afterthought. We have pooled our limited resources to make the voices of afterschool heard.
- Over 300 students, families, afterschool providers, and other advocates marched to the State Capitol and visited legislative offices in March.
- These advocates delivered over 10,000 handwritten postcards from children and youth, parents, teachers and principals, and afterschool staff from programs around the state.
- Over 400 people rallied in Los Angeles in May, showing the commitment and energy of our coalition.
- More than 150 organizations supported our request for more funding, including school districts, cities, child advocacy groups, law enforcement and afterschool programs—even those who don’t receive any ASES funding.
- Over 1,500 people have signed this year’s petition to save afterschool.
- Nearly 6,000 individuals contacted legislators and the Governor more than 22,000 times via emails, phone calls, or tweets.
Our power is in our collective voice and each of these actions has contributed to a powerful campaign and is leading to results. The Senate has recommended an unprecedented $100 million of additional ongoing funding, and the Assembly recommended $80.5 million. To persuade the Senate and Assembly that the children, families, schools, and communities who rely on afterschool need and deserve their attention and funding, is a success in and of itself. The Budget Conference Committee is meeting now to negotiate a compromise agreement. It is possible that the final budget doesn’t include any additional funding for ASES, but it looks like we have a chance.
The final stretch
We only have a matter of days before the budget is finalized. In this final stretch, we are pushing legislators and the Governor to understand what and who is at risk if they do not prioritize afterschool and provide the critical funding ASES needs this year.
I want to thank the people and programs that have made this progress possible. Most don’t have extensive experience in advocacy, but we all learn as we go. They don’t have dedicated time in their day for advocacy; they have full-time jobs with other responsibilities, but they have made time to speak for what they believe in: a state that takes care of children and working families. I am incredibly proud to stand with the people and programs that have made this fight a priority… and we are always looking for more to join us!
Get involved with the campaign – learn what you can do today on our Take Action webpage.
For breakfast, I had steel cut oats and berries.