Demand for after-school and summer learning programs increases as parents seek to reduce screen time

By Nadia Ramlagan
Public press service

Eight in 10 Kentucky parents say after-school programs could help their child deal with social and mental health issues by reducing unproductive screen time, a new survey finds.

Experts say demand for these types of programs has increased across the Commonwealth.

Afterschool Alliance executive director Jodi Grant said afterschool programs are often understaffed partnerships between schools and community organizations. She said local districts cannot currently meet demand.

(NKyTribune file)

“In Kentucky,” Grant said, “for every kid that’s in a program, the parents of four more want their kids to be in a program — and those parents and kids choose to be there.”

She also pointed out that black and Latino children are among the most likely not to have access.

According to the survey, more than 60% of parents of color and those with low income said they want after-school programs that help their child learn life skills and reduce risky behaviors.

Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance director Tom Haggard said he thinks state leaders haven’t prioritized after-school programs.

“We really haven’t invested the state in after-school or summer learning on a really impactful level,” Haggard said. “A lot of other states have invested in after-school, and that’s just not something we’ve been able to do in Kentucky yet.”

Tom Haggard

Grant pointed to federal COVID dollars as a resource to help support and expand after-school and summer learning programs for children.

“We absolutely need to do more to squeeze more money out of families who can’t afford these programs,” Grant said, “because they create opportunities for children, for working parents, and for our long-term economy.” .

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a dozen states across the country currently provide dedicated funds for after-school programs.

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