The Afterschool Alliance’s fourth edition of America After 3PM provides a detailed, updated accounting of the circumstances and conditions of U.S. children during the hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Based on a survey with responses from more than 30,000 U.S. families, the report builds on similar surveys conducted in 2004, 2009 and 2014, offering a complete picture of afterschool programs, including the experiences and opportunities they provide, and who is missing out.
Key findings include:
- Unmet demand for afterschool programs is at an all-time high. For every child in an afterschool program, there are three more children waiting to get in.
- Support for afterschool programs is strong. Parents give high marks to afterschool programs, with 83 percent agreeing programs give working parents peace of mind, 81 percent agreeing programs help parents keep their jobs and 85 percent agreeing that afterschool gets kids more excited about learning.
- The opportunity gap is evident: Higher-income families spend more than five times as much on out-of-school-time activities (roughly $3,600 per year) than families in the lowest income bracket ($700 per year).
- Cost, a lack of available programming, and a lack of safe transportation to and from programs are all barriers are barriers to participation, and inequities persist. Sixty-one percent of low-income parents report that cost is a barrier to enrolling their child in an afterschool program. Access is a barrier for 58 percent.
- Some 7.8 million children are enrolled in an afterschool program today, down from a high of 10.2 million children in 2014.
- The vast majority of parents report that their child’s afterschool program offers children the chance to build social and emotional skills and competencies (96 percent), make time for physical activity (85 percent), receive homework help (73 percent), take advantage of STEM learning opportunities (73 percent) and practice reading or writing (69 percent). Additionally, 94 percent of parents reported overall satisfaction with their child’s experience in their primary afterschool program.
- Eighty-seven percent of parents favor public funding for programs that provide afterschool opportunities to students in communities that have few opportunities for children and youth.
America After 3PM data included in this report were collected between January 27 and March 17, 2020. Also included in this report are findings from a nationally representative online survey fielded October 12-29, 2020, of 1,202 parents of school-aged children, to determine how the COVID-19 pandemic has and has not changed families’ needs during the hours after school.
Some of those findings include:
- 70 percent of parents whose child is working on a hybrid school schedule are concerned about their ability to juggle working and monitoring their child’s distance learning, and 54 percent report stress regarding providing learning support while their child’s school is operating virtually.
- 84 percent of parents are concerned about their child’s social and emotional wellbeing, and 55 percent are concerned about the increase in unsupervised time for their child.
- 49 percent of children not in an afterschool program in the fall of 2020 would participate in one in-person, virtually, or a hybrid of in-person and virtually, if it were available.
- The coronavirus was a top concern for parents who chose not to enroll their child in an afterschool program during fall 2020, but other top concerns echoed those of the pre-pandemic era, including, lack of a safe way to get to and from the program, and inconvenient location/hours.
- Only 11 percent of parents reported that their child would attend an afterschool program in the fall. Of those, 39 percent would attend in-person only, 31 percent virtually and 27 percent hybrid.
- Parents’ support for public funding of afterschool programs remained strong, with 85 percent of parents overall in favor.
- Three in four parents agree that the experience of the pandemic has made them appreciate teachers and afterschool program providers more than ever.
Points of Interest
Survey finds that the families of nearly 25 million children are unable to attend an afterschool program in America today. For every child in an afterschool program, three more are waiting to get in.
Families in the highest income bracket spend on average five times more on out-of-school-time activities than families in the lowest income bracket, leading to a widening opportunity gap.
More parents than ever say that they are in favor of expanding public funding for afterschool programs.