Survey Reports: Afterschool Participation Grows but Unmet Demand Nears 20 Million Children

 (StatePoint) “America After 3 PM,” a new survey commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance, finds that participation in afterschool programs has increased dramatically, from 6.5 million children in 2004 to 10.2 million today. Unmet demand has increased, as well. The parents of 19.4 million children not in afterschool programs say they would enroll their children if programs were available.

Every day, children in afterschool programs expand their horizons, enhance their skills and discover their passions by programming computers, planting gardens, cleaning up parks and playgrounds, and by participating in many more activities that prepare them for college, career and life. But despite an increase in participation over the last decade, the new survey of 30,000 American households found that, for every child currently enrolled in an afterschool program, there are two more who are not – and whose parents would like them to be.

“I’ve seen firsthand what reams of data have proven: Afterschool programs do remarkable things for our children, families and communities,” said former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, founder of After-School All-Stars. “They help kids with their homework, teach them teamwork, engage them in community service, pair them with mentors, give them the chance to get — and stay — physically fit, engage them in activities like rocketry and robotics that turn them on to 21st-century professions, connect them to community partners, and much more. We need to make an afterschool program available to every child.”

The new “America After 3PM” survey finds that both participation in, and unmet demand for, afterschool programs are much higher among children from low-income households than households with higher income, and higher among African American and Hispanic than white children. The parents of 60 percent of the nation’s African American children would enroll their children in programs if ones were available, as would the parents of 57 percent of Latino children. The same is true of 35 percent of white children.

“Afterschool programs help students use the skills and information they learn in school, while keeping them safe, inspiring them to learn, and providing essential help to working families,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “While we have made some progress, we are nowhere close to meeting the demand for afterschool and summer programs. Too many children are missing out on the fun, educational activities afterschool programs offer because federal funding has been stalled for years. It’s past time to increase our country’s investment in afterschool.”

The benefits of afterschool programs are clear to families. More than eight in ten parents with children in afterschool programs say these programs help working parents keep their jobs. Eighty-five percent say the programs give working parents peace of mind.