This report is a follow-up to a 2012-2013 study, which found that 77 of 100 large U.S. cities were coordinating the work of out-of-school-time providers, government agencies, private funders, and others to provide high-quality afterschool programs to the children who stand to benefit most. The report provides a look at the state of afterschool coordination just prior to the unexpected and devastating closure of schools and afterschool programs in the spring of 2020 owing to the global pandemic. It focuses on three key components described in the research on afterschool coordination—a designated coordinating entity, a common data system, and a framework or set of standards for program quality.
The authors were able to gather information about the status of afterschool systems in 67 of 75 cities (two of the original 77 cities were left out of the current study for methodological reasons). They found that a large majority—57 cities—were still coordinating afterschool efforts in 2020. Moreover, the proportion of cities that had adopted all three key components increased from 29 percent in 2013 to 40 percent in 2020. While the percentage of cities with a common data system and the percentage with quality standards or a quality framework both increased, a quarter of cities that had coordinating entities in 2013 no longer had them in 2020. This may be indicative of afterschool systems adapting to changes in city priorities and resources or adopting new forms of governance. Statewide and regional networks, state-level afterschool coordination initiatives and private philanthropy appeared to be playing a larger role in supporting coordination than in 2013.
That the majority of cities sustained their systems and many added components suggests that afterschool coordination had established its value in these communities, according to the authors.
The research also found a statistically significant relationship between increased funding for afterschool coordination and the use of quality standards or a quality framework in 2020 and a statistically significant relationship between having a high or moderate level of support from the mayor or county executive and having a common data system.
Respondents in a majority of cities expressed a desire for more resources and support in a number of areas, including effective communication with partners and the public, using data for program planning and improvement and help for program providers to collect, report, and work with data.
The authors also looked at 50 cities where, in 2013, there was no afterschool coordination or they were unable to find a knowledgeable contact afterschool coordination. Of the 34 cities where a knowledgeable contact could be found in 2020, 14 were now doing some coordination.