Contact: Rachel Gwaltney, Vice President, Policy and Research | 410-856-1370 x107
BALTIMORE, MD, November 6, 2019 – The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) – the only national nonprofit exclusively focused on closing the achievement and opportunity gap by increasing access to high-quality summer learning opportunities – fully endorses the Family Friendly Schools Act (S. 2784), recently introduced in the Senate by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).
This bill awards five-year grants of up to $5 million total to school districts to transform elementary schools serving a high number of low-income families into Family Friendly Schools that align the school day with the work day to better support working families, and disseminate the lessons learned from these model schools to communities throughout the nation. It would also provide a much needed funding increase for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program to expand access to summer learning opportunities.
The summer months present an opportunity to close achievement and opportunity gaps – to help kids catch up, keep up and grow in meaningful ways. Summer learning loss, also known as the summer slide, is a well-documented phenomenon. Research confirms that many kinds of informal or high-quality formal enrichment opportunities can help students maintain or even increase their academic skills over the summer months.
Summer is also the most challenging time for working families to find adequate and affordable child care. The average weekly cost of a summer program is $288 per child, meaning this is not just a problem for low-income families. According to a recent Center for American Progress survey, 73% of families—reported at least some difficulty finding child care in the summertime, and more than half of respondents citing cost as a challenge. CAP estimated that in 2018, a typical family of four could expect to pay more than $3,000 for summer programs—20 percent of its take-home pay for the entire summer. Families need more free and low-cost options for summer programming in order to ensure that children are safe, healthy, and engaged while parents are working.
The 21CCLC program represents the only dedicated funding for out-of-school time learning and enrichment, yet serves only a fraction of the children and families in need of programming, especially during the summer. Only 11 states require that 21 CCLC grantees offer summer programs and another 12 states award priority points for summer. Boosting the dedicated funding for summer will give states the capacity to help their grantees extend their work into the summer months, and keep more children engaged in these vital programs year-round.
“Summer has a high return on investment,” says Aaron Philip Dworkin, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association. “When children and working families have access to high-quality programs in the summertime, we all benefit from greater workplace productivity, safer communities, and children who go back to school in the fall ready and excited to learn. Schools can’t do this work alone; 21CCLC helps schools partner with high-quality community-based programs to bring unique and fun learning and enrichment activities to youth most in need when school is not in session. With the additional 21CCLC funding that this legislation would provide, successful afterschool programs will be able to extend their good work into the critical summer months, and year-round.”
This legislation represents a major win for NSLA’s vision to keep all kids learning, safe and healthy every summer.