City Council Holds Hearing on Universal After School
Hundreds of thousands of children left alone and unsupervised
could finally get necessary after school programs
New York, NY – Universal after school could soon be available for more than 1.1 million public school students in New York City providing academic enrichment, arts, physical activities, and even nutrition if all goes well at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 14, 2020 in the City Council’s Youth Services Committee. Legislation authored by Youth Services Chair Debi Rose, Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger, and Council Member Ben Kallos, Introductions 1100 and 1113 of 2018 would mandate universal after school that would be phased in through an annual plan that would include reporting on implementation and results.
It is far less common for children to have a stay at home parent than a generation ago and far more common for parents to work late with New Yorkers working longer hours than anyone else. This is leaving a gap between school dismissal and when parents are home. In New York there are 584,597 children in K-12 that are left alone and unsupervised with 1,151,361 awaiting an available program, and only 632,076 enrolled in after school according to the Afterschool Alliance. After-school keeps young people positively engaged during the hours of 2 pm to 6 pm when research shows that they are most vulnerable to illicit behavior and criminal justice involvement according to the Council for a Strong America.
“After-school programs provide a safe, stress-free environment for children to receive additional academic and social support while their parents contribute to the necessary economic well-being of their families. These programs have been found to improve student outcomes and provide equity and opportunity by leveling the playing field. This bill makes an investment in the future of our city by ensuring that no child is turned away,” said Youth Services Chair Debi Rose.
“After school programs provide vital learning, enrichment and personal growth opportunities for students. Expanding after school programming to all K-12 students who wish to enroll will keep our children safe, encourage academic achievement and inspire participation in extracurricular activities,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education. “The pair of bills heard today will support students to excel beyond the classroom and deliver kinesthetic learning all year round.”
“Universal access to after school will increase and equalize educational opportunities, keep kids out of the criminal justice system, and make life easier for parents whose jobs keep them at work until at least 5pm, if not longer. As a new parent myself, I rely on an extended day and enrichment activities to keep my daughter busy while my partner and I are working,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs must be satisfied if we want every child to reach their full potential, this means addressing physiological needs with universal breakfast, lunch, snack, and supper, safety needs with child health plus, and finally love, belonging, and esteem through universal after school. I want to wake up in a city where every child has the love and self-esteem they need to grow up to their full potential.”
"Universal after-school programming would provide New York City students with a safe, supportive environment where they could engage in additional academic and extracurricular activities. Working families would no longer have to pay for after-school out of pocket or worry about having their children home alone," said Council Member Diana Ayala, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “As a working mother who has relied on after-school throughout my career, I wholeheartedly support this legislation and look forward to working alongside my colleagues to ensure a successful passage."
"Parents shouldn't have to sacrifice their childcare duties to preserve their jobs, yet too often they're pitted against each other because of prohibitive after school costs," said Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22. "As the working challenges of New York City change, it's on us to deliver the vital services all of our citizens deserve. I'm proud to support my friend and colleague Ben Kallos in securing universal after school."
In 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced universal after school for middle school students, with the rebranding of Out of School Time (OST) to Comprehensive After School System (COMPASS), middle school slots and funding grew from 57,535 and $135.7 million in 2015 to 77,747 and $180.5 million in 2019 for the school year according to the Independent Budget Office.
There are 500,000 students in kindergarten through 5th grade enrolled in public schools with only 47,000 COMPASS slots available, some 9%, according to a 2019 Report of the New York City Council. The cost to make elementary school after school universal was estimated at a total cost of $250 million by the Department of Youth and Community Development at Preliminary Budget Hearing in 2019. COMPASS elementary now receives about $150 million in baseline funding, it is estimated that $100 million would fund universal after school for elementary.
After school programs serving high school students through the COMPASS High and Explore programs received funding of $4.4 million in funding since 2015 but have seen enrollment decline from 6,732 to 4,142 according to the Independent Budget Office.
During last year’s budget negotiations Speaker Corey Johnson, Youth Services Chair Rose, and the Council were able to work with Mayor Bill de Blasio to secure the following budget wins for Youth Services, for a total of $61.4 million:
- $14.8 million, 4,000 additional baselined COMPASS elementary slots;
- $15 million, one-year of funding for 22,000 summer SONYC slots;
- $11.9 million, one-year of funding, for 5,000 additional SYEP slots; and
- $19.7 million, one-year of funding, for 4,200 Work, Learn, Grow (WLG) slots.
Expansion of universal after school to include elementary students in addition to middle school students has been called for by the Campaign for Children, Council Member Kallos, the Progressive Caucus 18 Progressive Policies for 2018, the Women’s Caucus, and the City Council.
Introduction 1100 of 2018 by Council Members Kallos, Treyger and Rose would provide for “Universal After School” with a mandate to provide an after school slot for any student that requests one. Any student enrolled in a public school from 21 down to 3 would be covered. The legislation contemplates phasing in universal after school through an annual report on implementation including how many slots are available, being used, needed, costs, advertising, outreach, as well as implementation dates and overall progress. Reporting would sunset once the city certified that a sufficient number of after school slots are available for all students.
Introduction 1113 of 2018 by Council Members Treyger, Kallos and Rose would mandate annual reporting on all after school program availability, funding, eligibility, applications, along with participation and demographics by school.
The Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) funded programs provided a variety of educational, social, cultural, recreational, and employment-related opportunities to 337,599 New York City youth according to the 2019 Mayor’s Management Report. The majority of youth were served through one of four program areas in the DYCD portfolio: COMPASS NYC (122,390), Summer Youth Employment Program (74,354), Beacon (74,142), and Cornerstone (25,831).
“After- school programs provide our students an outlet to experience non-traditional and non-academic learning opportunities. After a long day of academics, students have the opportunity to learn something a different skill and craft such as our Guitar Ensemble that schools may not be able to provide during the day school hours. Along with keeping our children safe from harmful or unproductive activities outside of school walls, our guitar program is giving them an opportunity to express themselves differently and find a passion they may not have known about if they did not experience our after-school program. How dare anyone rob our students from exploration and growth,” said Jahzeel Montes: Executive Director of Internal Creations, Inc.
"Grand St. Settlement fully supports Universal After School. These important community-based programs enrich education and help working families to stabilize and thrive,” said Robert Cordero, Executive Director, Grand St. Settlement.
"I can do something else productive, My mom want doesn't want me to be on the streets after school, I'm not on the street, but I'm also not home being bored not doing anything," said Raul R. former Internal Creations student.
"That's the only thing I enjoy in my life right now, I don't really have time to go out and have fun that much, But when I'm in my own space I grab my guitar and it calms me down," said Shahi S. former Internal Creations student.
After-school and summer programs for NYC students of all ages are critically important, especially for students that are blind or experience other disabilities. They are instrumental in enabling blind students to develop the skills needed to work as a team, communicate effectively, solve problems and use assistive technology. We welcome the City Council's attention to this issue and advocacy for adequate funding for community-based youth after-school and summer programs,” said Nancy D. Miller Executive Director/CEO VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.