By Corey Mitchell | July 27, 2020
Thousands of after-school programs closed their doors months ago—and a majority now fear they may never reopen.
Nearly 9 in 10 programs have long-term funding concerns because of school closures caused by COVID-19—and 6 in 10 are concerned that they may have to permanently shut their doors, a survey commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization, reveals.
Despite the bleak outlook, the survey of 914 after-school providers may not capture the full extent of the trouble programs face. Survey respondents were contacted in May and June, before a wave of school districts, including nine of the nation’s 15 largest, announced this month that they plan to begin the fall semester online.
“There’s great uncertainty about economics,” Jodi Grant, the executive director of the Afterschool Alliance, said in an online meeting announcing the survey results. “Programs are losing resources and funding and really struggling to survive. We’re really concerned with what is happening in the field.”
The survey, the first in a series from the Afterschool Alliance, aims to gauge the health of an industry that served an estimated 10 million children before the pandemic struck. Now, heading into the fall, providers are bracing to serve only a fraction of that number.
Overall, the survey found that more than half of providers are unsure if the “worst is over or yet to come.” Among the programs surveyed, more than 75 percent have laid off or furloughed staff members or cut their hours. The programs that participated in the survey represent more than 6,000 after-school sites across 47 states and the District of Columbia.