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Trump Budget Targets After-School Programs, Could Hurt Working Families

The Trump administration has proposed cutting federal funding for after-school and summer programs. (School's Out Washington)
The Trump administration has proposed cutting federal funding for after-school and summer programs. (School's Out Washington)
April 20, 2017

WENATCHEE, Wash. – Members of Congress return to the Capitol next week for budget negotiations, and what they decide could have a big impact on children and what they do after school.

Under the Trump budget proposal, funding for 21st Century Community Learning Center grants, which help fund after-school and summer programs across the nation, is cut completely. Washingtonians involved with these programs say that will hurt a lot of students.

Carolyn Griffin-Bugert, grant coordinator for Wenatchee School District, said there are five years of statistics in her district that show after school programs are helping children succeed.

"There are very few academic programs that can really say that statistically we've got a strong correlation between what we're doing in a program and what student outcomes are,” Griffin-Bugert said.

The Trump administration's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, has said the programs have not been proven to help kids in school. However, Afterschool Alliance data shows that for each dollar invested in after-school and summer programs, more than $9 is saved by increasing kids' learning potential and improving their performance in school.

Coordinators in the field point to the other effects, which are equally important and impact students' academic success. Kim Hogue, program director for Youth and Family Link in Longview, said kids, especially those from low-income families, get experiences that make them more confident in the classroom.

"Part of making our kids more successful and part of making them feel like they belong and they have a right to raise their hand in class and a right to be part of conversations is giving them the experiences to be able to talk about,” Hogue said.

Griffin-Bugert said funding for these programs is critical to give the children of working families opportunities they might not otherwise have.

"We kind of assume that all children have access to the same enriching experiences, and they absolutely don’t,” she said. "And without something like an after-school program bringing these extra enrichment opportunities to our low-income, most at-risk students, their lives are much smaller."

CCLC programs received more than $1 billion in fiscal year 2017, providing programming for 1.6 million children, nearly three-quarters of whom come from low-income families. The state of Washington receives about $16.5 million annually, which serves more than 15,000 children in the state.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA