Throughout the pandemic, the Afterschool Alliance has been tracking the ways in which COVID-19 is impacting afterschool and summer learning providers. In their most recent survey, the seventh wave of the Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 series, Kentucky providers report that they are more likely to be open and operating in person this summer and are more optimistic about a return to normal than in previous surveys. However, Kentucky providers also anticipate challenges, with long waitlists and staffing top concerns.
Kentucky Specific Takeaways
These data are based on an online survey, conducted by Edge Research between March 21- April 12, 2022, of 948 afterschool and summer program providers, including 151 respondents who report that their program is located in Kentucky.
Programs are open and have high demand but face challenges
- 77% of programs in Kentucky are open in-person in some capacity (including programs: operating as usual, operating only some sites, serving a smaller number of students, or operating both in-person and virtually).
- In Kentucky, 16% of providers have programs operating at reduced capacity.
- Kentucky afterschool programs are offering a wide range of activities, which include: academic enrichment (91%); access to technology (including computers, laptops, and/or broadband) (47%); family or parent engagement activities (58%); opportunities to talk with peers or staff members about their feelings and emotions (69%); and physical activity opportunities (86%) to name a few.
- Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) providers in Kentucky have families on a waiting list, compared to just over half (51%) nationally.
- In Kentucky, 69% of providers are concerned about waitlists for students and/or being able to meet the demand for programs.
- Kentucky providers shared that: advice on staff burnout and keeping teams engaged (54%), tools and trainings to prepare staff to deliver high-quality summer learning programs (38%), and advice on funding streams and securing foundation funds (25%) would benefit their program. Providers also ranked online trainings for direct-service staff highly.
COVID’s long-term impacts on programs
- 47% of providers in Kentucky are either extremely or very concerned about long-term funding and their program’s future.
- 44% of providers in Kentucky are concerned about finding physical space to offer programming while meeting public health procedures.
- Kentucky providers (50%) are concerned about families returning to their program after the pandemic is over, compared to 53% of providers nationally.
- 50% of providers in Kentucky reported worries about whether families will feel safe sending their child to an afterschool program.
Student well-being remains a top concern
- Kentucky providers remain highly concerned about the impacts the pandemic has had on students throughout their communities. For instance, providers are extremely concerned about students experiencing learning loss (29%), food insecurity (15%), and adverse childhood experiences (including abuse, neglect, and other household dysfunctions) (24%).
- In Kentucky, students’ mental and emotional health is top of mind with nearly 6 in 10 (58%) providers sharing that they were extremely or very concerned, as well as 53% extremely or very concerned, about students missing opportunities for social connections with peers and caring adults. Additionally, providers expressed worries around barriers to programming, with nearly 6 in 10 sharing they are extremely/very concerned (57%) that “there are children in our community who need afterschool programming and are not able to access it”.
Though waitlists are long, programs are struggling to maintain staff
- In Kentucky, 75% of providers that are operating at reduced capacity report that it is due to staffing challenges.
- In Kentucky, 26% of providers were extremely concerned, 49% were very concerned, and 14% were somewhat concerned (89% total) about staffing challenges.
- 6% of Kentucky respondents shared it was “somewhat easy”, 23% said “somewhat difficult”, and 42% reported it has been “very difficult” to maintain staff.
- 77% of programs in Kentucky are employing part-time staff, compared to 84% nationally.
- 30% of providers in Kentucky are extremely or very concerned about paying for staff health insurance and other benefits.
Looking to the future
- 79% of providers in Kentucky are planning on offering summer programming this year.
- Kentucky program providers are optimistic about their futures, with 69% reporting optimism and 61% saying that they feel that the worst is over.
You can read more about the findings and view national-level results in the brief, “Summer 2022 Outlook from Program Providers. State-level findings from previous survey waves can be found on our Kentucky After 3PM page.