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After-School Funding on Federal Chopping Block

February 27, 2008

Seattle, WA – School districts and after-school care providers are "ringing bells" in Washington today. They're worried there will be less federal money for after-school programs if Congress goes along with a $300 million cut being proposed by the Bush administration, which includes $4 million less for Washington state.

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spelling unveils a new plan today to give vouchers to parents to pay for after-school care, instead of helping to fund the after-school programs themselves.

Janet Frieling, network director of the advocacy group School's Out Washington, says that would mean less after-school resources, in a state that already doesn't have enough.

"This is a huge switch in this program; we do not think it would be a good idea. It will really undermine the existing community partnerships that have been built; it will really pull the rug out from under a lot of quality programs."

Frieling estimates that, in Washington, after-school care will be available to 4,000 fewer children if the voucher system is implemented. She says the federal money now spent on after-school care amounts to about $75,000 per program, per year, and some programs won't survive without it.

"It is not a lot of money, but it helps to leverage a lot of community resources, and it brings in other partners to the table."

More on the issue is at www.afterschoolalliance.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA