The Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance’s (KYOSA’s) first edition of Out-of-School Time in Kentucky–a study that provides a pre-pandemic description of Kentucky’s out-of-school time (i.e. before/after school and summer) landscape–finds that too many children and families across our Commonwealth do not have access to affordable, high-quality out-of-school time care and programming despite a large body of research documenting the benefits to participation, especially among low-income students and students of color.
Two new Out-of-School Time in Kentucky documents–a fact sheet and Summary of Key Findings–give a quick look into the key findings from the full report, which focuses on Kentucky’s current out-of-school time landscape, gaps in access, barriers to participation, missed opportunities, and recommendations for the future. Both documents are are now available on KYOSA’s new out-of-school time research hub, Kentucky After 3PM.
For children, benefits of out-of-school time participation include, but are not limited to:
- Developing important workforce skills;
- Engaging in STEM or computer science learning opportunities;
- Receiving healthy snacks and meals while also staying physically active; and
- Reducing the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors.
For parents, benefits include:
- Giving working parents peace of mind;
- Supervising and assisting with distance learning;
- Allowing parents to keep their jobs, return to work, or seek employment; and
- Helping parents be good educational partners.
At the time of the study, there were at least 1,569 unique out-of-school time program sites across Kentucky. While this may seem like a large number, it is not when compared to current demand. According to the latest edition of America After 3PM, a national household survey focused on afterschool demand and participation released by the Afterschool Alliance in December 2020, there are currently at least four children waiting for an available program for every one child enrolled. This results in many children across Kentucky being left alone and unsupervised when school is not in session–a problem that has likely worsened as a result of COVID-19-related school and child care closures.
Based on survey responses supplied by out-of-school time program staff between April and June of 2020 and data from existing sources, Out-of-School Time in Kentucky finds the following barriers at play when looking to understand the gap between demand and participation:
- Private programs are too expensive for the average working family. Nearly 90% of all out-of-school time programs in Kentucky that KYOSA identified are privately-funded, and these programs typically rely on parent-paid tuition/fees as their primary source of funding. According to America After 3PM, parents pay on average $117.90 per week per child for fee-based out-of-school time programs. For the average family of four in Kentucky with a median household income of $48,392, these fees over the course of a year would eat nearly 13% of their total income if they were to enroll one child, and over 25% if they were to enroll both children, but this family would make too much to qualify for any child care assistance through the state.
- Few programs are located outside of large population centers. Even for the few families in Kentucky who can afford the high fees, many live in areas of the state that have few, if any, available programs. This problem is most pronounced in rural areas where there is not public or public/private investment in out-of-school time programming through programs and organizations like the federally-funded 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) program and Save the Children.
- Children lack of transportation to and from program sites. All 21st CCLC programs that responded to our survey are housed within a K-12 school, and many nonprofits like Save the Children also operate afterschool programs inside a school, which alleviates the need for transportation from school to another location. Furthermore, all 21st CCLC programs are required to provide transportation to any students who needs it in order to attend. However, among privately funded programs, which make up nearly 90% of Kentucky out-of-school time landscape, just 32% respondents stated that their program was housed within a school, with 78% also stating that their program was unable to provide transportation to and from program sites.
- There is not enough public investment to ensure access for kids from low-income households. Kentucky families who cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs associated with fee-based out-of-school time programs are left with few options, many of which are not available in all communities. The only non-fee-based programs providers KYOSA identified as part of this first edition of Out-of-School Time in Kentucky were federally-funded 21st CCLCs and afterschool programs operated by Save the Children. Boys & Girls clubs can be an option for low-income families, but still charge a nominal yearly fee (usually around $50/child in Kentucky) for a child to participate. Many licensed school-age child care programs participate in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which provides financial assistance for child care expenses to families whose gross household income falls below 160% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). But many families in Kentucky make too much to qualify for CCAP, but too little to shoulder the full cost themselves.
Research has demonstrated time and time again that out-of-school time is a smart investment. For every $1 invested in out-of-school time programs, states save taxpayers at least $3 long-term. But too many kids are missing out, which in turn limits the amount of progress that can be made on larger state policy goals such as preventing dropout, improving educational attainment, reducing unemployment, fighting the opioid epidemic, and ensuring the safety of our children and communities overall.
To learn more about the current state of out-of-school time in Kentucky, visit our new online research hub, Kentucky After 3PM.