Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Regarding the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation


This week's blog post is our statement released yesterday in response to the news about the DC Trust dissolving. In light of these events, we will be revising and re-releasing our #ExpandLearningDC report and fact sheets here in the coming weeks (the report was originally released on this blog on April 13). 

In the meantime, as we all work together to find a way forward, DCAYA is recommending that stakeholders use our checklist of standards for quality out-of-school time programs and systems as a shared framework. Our statement from April 26, 2016 follows.

This morning, we learned that the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (DC Trust) will be dissolving. While the exact timeline and process is still to be determined or announced, now is the time to move forward on next steps with urgency. We want to provide you with a few immediate updates on what we’ve learned today. This is followed by a more detailed set of recommendations for the path moving forward, and a final reminder of why the programs the Trust has funded remain so vital.

Immediate Updates
Based on conversations with the Council and the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Brenda Donald, we are confident that:
  • Current out of school time grant commitments will be honored. 
  • The $2,000,000 allocation for this coming summer will remain stable and move quickly (likely through the Trust as a part of the final wind down).
  • Council will work to ensure the Mayor’s proposed $4,900,000 for FY17 is protected. The Mayor has demonstrated a clear commitment to young people with the proposed FY17 budget to fund OST programming. The continuation of the youth development work that was central to the mission of the DC Trust, “ensur(ing) that every DC youth develops the skills to grow into a healthy, caring and productive adult” is paramount.
  • Mayor Bowser will deploy both Deputy Mayor Donald and Deputy Mayor Niles to work closely with Council and the community to develop a transition plan for next school year. DCAYA recommends that funding be directed to a local intermediary organization or funding institution with established grant-making expertise and an understanding of the District’s youth development landscape. Alternatively, funding could reside within a one-time special commission for children and youth that is established for the FY17 school year and summer until a more long-term intermediary is designated. In either scenario, we must work collaboratively to ensure programming is not disrupted next fall. 
Taking a thoughtful approach to the management of youth development funding is critical, and as we work with policy makers, our members, and the community at large to explore and consider next steps and solutions, we must remain aware of the unique space such an intermediary exists in. Because of this, while there might seem to be easier options to consider, such as shifting these funds to Local Education Agencies (LEAs), we would be remiss in our own work if we didn’t push to find a better, sustainable solution rather than rush to institutionalize an easier, short-term one.

While next steps remain a bit unclear today, know that we’re working closely across DC government to ensure that there will be opportunities for public feedback and input on what has and has not worked historically. As these and other opportunities are made available, we will communicate them to you and your fellow DCAYA members.

The Path Forward
We are dedicated to protecting this funding, to ensuring that it will stay intact, and to guaranteeing that it remains true to its original purpose. We have been searching for alternative OST funding structures, even before seeing the news regarding the DC Trust’s dissolution. We believe the value of a public-private intermediary should be central to our thinking about the future of OST and youth development funding. We are committed to being a thought partner in this work, and will frame future conversations with these thoughts in mind:
  1. When effectively designed, intermediaries can have tremendous value. We know how valuable having a grantmaking intermediary for local Out-of-School Time (OST) funding is to our members and community based organizations in general. A strong public-private intermediary professionalizes the non-profit, youth serving sector through the provision of high quality youth development training and technical assistance. It can ensure grantee accountability through consistent oversight; and finally, when effectively designed an intermediary entity can make sure public investments are made to high quality youth development programs with demonstrated impacts on academic achievement, diminishing the learning gap, reducing truancy, combating youth crime, promoting healthy behaviors and supporting transition-aged youth.
  2. The DC Council’s oversight of the intermediary should set a reasonable cap on annual overhead and administrative costs. This action would serve to reassure providers and the public that the funds are dedicated to OST, and that the dollars are reaching the most number of children and youth through community-based program implementation. A threshold of 10-15% would meet the recommendations “reasonable cap” standard.
  3. As longer-term solutions are considered, all stakeholder partners should establish and use a common checklist of quality standards for OST programs and the system as a whole. Any and all funders, programs, schools, parent-teacher organizations, government leaders, LEAs and agency partners would have access to the tool. Any CBOs receiving OST grants from the funding intermediary would be expected to meet the quality standards. Similarly, all policy and funding decisions impacting OST would be assessed according to this checklist.
The Value of Out of School Time Opportunities

The annual share of funding for out-of-school time programs has declined by 60% since 2010. As a result, only one quarter of the locally-funded slots exist now for community-based afterschool and summer learning that were available to kids just six years ago, a reduction from close to 10,000 in 2010 to fewer than 2,500 in 2016.

If we are serious about providing safe, youth-friendly opportunities focused on improving outcomes and quality of life for all our children now and in future, we must protect the $4.9 million presently proposed for OST programming in FY2017 and work collaboratively to design a strong, efficient and transparent system moving forward. While there are other funding sources for out-of-school time activities in the District, the funds which are allocated to the DC Trust explicitly for OST uniquely offer community-based organizations the ability to nimbly partner with multiple schools to maximize the number of kids they serve annually. As such, this funding stream directly reflects the value we as a District place on our kids’ learning in the hours after school and in the summer. In ensuring the stability and flexibility of this funding, the District will remain on track in serving children and youth with quality, community-based expanded learning opportunities.

While today's news is heartbreaking, know that we will work diligently with each and every one of you to ensure that the children, youth and families that rely on these critical services are protected. Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions, and we'll be in touch as things unfold.

- Maggie Riden, Executive Director, on behalf of your team at DC Alliance of Youth Advocates

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Youth Voice: Afterschool Partnerships Expand Learning for DCPS Students


This week we’re bringing you the testimony of Nana Asare, an alum of DC SCORES. At last week’s April 14 budget hearing on DCPS, Mr. Asare was joined by Katrina Owens, DC SCORES’ chief of staff and a former DCPS teacher. A recent DCAYA survey of 51 community-based organizations like DC SCORES showed that 83% of kids served after school by those organizations in DC this year were in DCPS. We believe that when DCPS schools and staff actively collaborate with quality programs like DC SCORES to ensure harmony and integration, it yields the best possible experience for students. Nana’s testimony tells such a story.

My name is Nana Asare.  I am a DC SCORES alum and 19 years old. I graduated from Wilson SHS in 2014. I have been a student at Johnson State College where I participated on the soccer team. I joined the DC SCORES program at Brightwood Elementary School in 4th grade. It changed my life.
DC SCORES alum Nana Asare (far right) testifies to the DC Council Committee on Education.
DC SCORES chief of staff Katrina Owens, who also testified, is seated to his right. (April 14, 2016)

My family emigrated from Ghana when I was 2.  Before joining the DC SCORES team I was hard headed, stubborn and had a lot of behavioral issues.  My principal encouraged me to join the DC SCORES team and it changed how I saw myself, my school, and my community. From that day on, DC SCORES and soccer became a huge part of my life. 

DC SCORES provided me a place to succeed and belong.  As I continued in school I continued playing soccer and engaging with SCORES. As a student at Wilson SHS I was a member of the varsity soccer team.  I also volunteered with DC SCORES every summer as a Jr Camp Counselor. It was important to me to make sure that kids currently in the program had an opportunity to find success and their voice like I did.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

EXTRA: DCPS Budget Oversight Responses Show Promising Trends for Afterschool in FY17

We are posting this special extra blog this week to follow up on our #ExpandLearningDC report. You can also download our statement here.

At the request of the DC Council’s Committee on Education, DCPS has provided a narrative of their proposed FY2017 budgets for afterschool and extended day at individual schools ahead of the chancellor’s budget oversight hearing on Thursday, April 21, 2016.

The school district’s responses to the committee show some promising new investments in afterschool programs in DCPS Title I elementary schools and education campuses going into the next school year:
  • DCPS will bring afterschool programs back in three elementary schools in Ward 7 in FY2017. Anne Beers, Randle Highlands and Smothers elementary schools all had Office of Out of School Time (OSTP) programming in school year 2014-2015 which was discontinued in the present school year. All three schools will see this programming restored in the coming school year, with 380 new seats for afterschool student enrollment and 37 new afterschool FTE positions between the three schools. This means a total of 52 schools will offer OSTP afterschool programming in the coming school year. (This is up from 49 as reported in our policy brief.)
  • DCPS projects adding more than 800 new afterschool spaces for student enrollment in FY2017. In addition to the seats for restored programming at the three new schools, DCPS plans to add 452 new afterschool seats in existing OSTP schools. Some of the biggest gains from the current school year into next will be seen at Bruce  Monroe at Park View, Noyes, Bunker Hill, Leckie and Stanton elementary schools. The total number of OSTP afterschool slots budgeted for in the coming school year is 7,700. (This is up from 6,790 at the end of last school year, as reported in our policy brief.)
  • DCPS’s total proposed budget for afterschool programming in FY2017 is $5.4 million, a 33% increase from the current school year. Funding will cover programming at three additional schools and the new afterschool enrollment spaces, as well as 183 new FTE positions to provide afterschool coverage at the schools, for a total of 804 FTE positions system-wide.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Help Us #KeepDYOnTrack this Advocacy Season!

This week, we're kicking off our series on DCAYA's big budget asks for FY17. Expanding transportation subsidies for older students was not included in Mayor Bowser's proposed budget-- but we are prepared to keep advocating for our youth who have re-engaged in education! Earlier this year, DCAYA worked with our partners at Raise DC's Disconnected Youth Change Network (DYCN) to conduct a youth survey on transportation. Below you'll find the advocacy resources we identified. 

You can find the full report of our findings here: Issue Briefing on the Transportation Needs of Re-engaging Youth.

THE ASK: An additional investment of $950,000 will ensure that youth (ages 22-24) who have overcome multiple barriers to re-engage in their education at a Local Education Agency (LEA) are able to attend school without the persistent worry of how they will afford to get there. This estimate is based on the average weekly cost of transportation that students reported to DCAYA via the DYCN Youth Transportation Survey ($30/ week on average) and OSSE’s reported number of youth aged 22-24 enrolled in DC schools (LEAs) in 2015 (721).

TALKING POINTS:

No District-wide support for the transportation needs of students 22+

·   No youth 22 or older has access to any citywide transportation aids. The District's Student Transit Subsidy Program (includes Kids Ride Free and subsidized passes) is available to youth ages 5-21.

Absence of transportation support significantly affects 22-24 year old students

·        Transportation is a significant expense for District youth. 54% of survey respondents 22-24 reported spending over $30 a week or $120 a month travelling to and from their programs.
·         Despite the high cost of transportation, youth are prioritizing their education. The majority of older youth surveyed reported spending 45% or more of their weekly income getting to and from their educational programs.
 ·         Transportation costs are high for all youth, but those living east of the river are the hardest hit. 83% of all youth 22-24 reported spending approximately one-fifth or more of their weekly income getting to and from their programs; notably 55% of these youth live in Wards 5, 7, and 8.

Impact of DC’s second-chance system investments relies on access to affordable transportation

·     When transportation costs are so high, showing up to class is half the battle for re-engaging youth. 21% of older youth reported missing class 3 or more times a month due to insufficient transportation funds. Most programs are less than 40 weeks long, so youth are missing 13% of their program’s total class time because they cannot afford to get there.
·     The loss of economic productivity and social costs associated with disconnected youth are profound. The roughly 7,500 currently disconnected students[1] in DC cost taxpayers (in lost earnings) roughly $13,900 each annually, for a total of $104 million every year. When you add in the annual per-student social cost (subsidized health care, income assistance, higher rates of criminal justice involvement) of $37,450 associated with disconnection, that’s an additional $281 million a year.[2]


THE NEXT STEPS:

      1. Testify and elevate youth narrative: Council needs to hear from you and your youth about the ways transportation costs affect student persistence and success. Over the next several weeks, we ask that you prepare testimony and work with your youth to provide examples of the need for expanded transportation support for youth 16-24. 

District Department of Transportation (DDOT)
Budget Hearing: Friday, April 8, 2016 at 11 am in Room 500
To testify, contact Aukima Benjamin, abenjamin@dccouncil.us or 202-724-8062

Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME)
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at 10 am in Room 120
Sign up here or call 202-724-8061

Budget Hearing: Monday, April 18, 2016 at 10 am in Room 412
Sign up here or call 202-724-8061

Budget Hearing: Monday, April 25, 2016 at 10 am in Room 412
To testify, contact Sarina Loy, sloy@dccouncil.us or 202-724-8058

2. Contact councilmembers to elevate ask & youth narrative

COUNCILMEMBER
AGENCY OVERSIGHT (HEARING DATE)
COMMITTEES
EMAIL
TWITTER
Mary Cheh*
DDOT (4/8)
Transportation & Environment (Chairperson)

Jack Evans*
DDOT (4/8)
WMATA (4/25)
Transportation & Environment
Finance & Revenue (Chairperson)
Brandon Todd*
DDOT (4/8)
DME (4/13)
Transportation & Environment
 Education
Kenyan McDuffie*
DDOT (4/8)
WMATA (4/25)
Transportation & Environment
 Finance & Revenue
Charles Allen*
DDOT (4/8)
DME (4/13)
Transportation & Environment
Education
David Grosso*
DME (4/13)
WMATA (4/25)
Education (Chairperson)
 Finance & Revenue
Vincent Orange
WMATA (4/25)
Finance & Revenue
vorange@dccouncil.us
Elissa Silverman
WMATA (4/25)
Finance & Revenue
Yvette Alexander
DME (4/13)
Education
Anita Bonds
DME (4/13)
Education
*Indicates high influence for our budget ask

3. Use Sample Tweets (.@Councilmember)

(.@Councilmember) Please fund Kids Ride Free expansion for youth 22-24 to help #KeepDYOnTrack. #DCFY17

(.@Councilmember) Surveyed youth 22-24 lack transportation supports, over half spending 45% of income getting to class #KeepDYOnTrack #DCFY17

(.@Councilmember) 21% of surveyed youth 22-24 miss 3+ days of class/month bc they can’t afford transportation #KeepDYOnTrack #DCFY17

(.@Councilmember) Showing up is half the battle: students 22-24 are struggling to afford their trip to class #KeepDYOnTrack. #DCFY17

That's all for now! We hope to see you at the Wilson Building this advocacy season!





Amy Dudas is the disconnected youth and workforce development policy analyst at DC Alliance of Youth Advocates. If you have any questions about today's blog, or would like more information on our transportation advocacy please contact her at amy@dc-aya.org.







[1] OSSE. (2014) “Bridging LEAs to Resources for Enhanced Student Outcomes” Online at: http://osse.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/osse/publication/attachments/OSSE_T1S3_FINAL%20PRESENTATION_%20110714_YDA.pdf
[2] Belfield, Levin, & Rosen (2012). The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth. Civic Enterprises. Online at:
http://www.civicenterprises.net/MediaLibrary/Docs/econ_value_opportunity_youth.pdf.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

FY2017 Budget Asks

Today’s blog comes to you as the first installment in our team’s analysis of Mayor Bowser’s proposed DC Budget for 2017. The Mayor’s proposal is now before Council where, through upcoming budget hearings and advocacy meetings, it will be debated and revised by Council Committees before it goes to a vote in May.

In the next few weeks, we'll be providing a deeper dive into each of our budget asks. We encourage you to follow along with our budget asks and talking points, and then join us at the Wilson Building to testify about your particular concerns at DC Council budget hearings.

Transportation Support - $950,000 (Not included in the Mayor’s proposed FY17 budget)

As we highlighted last year, the cost of transportation continues to be a pervasive barrier to the success of older youth (22-24) in re-engaging and maintaining engagement in educational opportunities. Unlike their younger colleagues (ages 5-21), who have access to the Mayor’s signature Kids Ride Free program, older youth must rely on their own, often limited, incomes or the support of their LEAs and programs to cover the cost of transportation. 


Earlier this year, DCAYA conducted a survey in collaboration with Raise DC’s Disconnected Youth Change Network (DYCN), and found that 54% of respondents 22-24 reported spending over $30 a week or $120 a month travelling to and from their programs. Additionally, over half of the older youth surveyed reported spending 45% or more of their weekly income getting to and from their educational programs. 83% of these youth reported spending around one-fifth or more of their weekly income getting to and from their programs; notably 55% of youth spending this much live in Wards 5, 7, and 8. 

An additional investment of $950,000 would ensure that these youth who have overcome multiple barriers to re-engage in their education at a Local Education Agency (LEA) would be able to attend school without the persistent worry of how they will afford to get there. To include the full breadth of youth pursuing their high school diploma or equivalent through District-funded schools (LEAs) and GED programs (CBOs), a total investment of $2.2 million is necessary.

Expanded Learning - $10 million ($4.9 million allocated in the Mayor’s proposed FY17 budget)

The mayor’s proposed budget includes an allocation of $4.9 million to the DC Trust in FY2017, including afterschool and summer community-based programming. As initial allocations go, this is the strongest we’ve seen in years, and when mid-year reprogrammed funds are included, about steady with what overall out-of-school time (OST) grants over the course of fiscal years have been. While encouraging, we see this investment as a glass “half full”.

The DC Trust’s annual share of funding for OST is a direct reflection of the value we as a District place on our kids in the hours after school and in the summer, and that share has declined by more than half from 2010 to the present year, resulting in only a quarter of the locally-funded slots for afterschool and summer learning that were there for kids just six years ago:



If we are serious about providing safe, youth-friendly opportunities focused on improving outcomes and quality of life for all our children now and in future, we must reverse these trends. With a $10 million allocation to the DC Trust for OST programming in FY2017, and a commitment from leaders to the development of a dedicated funding stream, we would be back on track to serve up to four times as many children and youth with quality expanded learning opportunities.

Educational Data Capacity - Maintain the $1.1 million allocated in the Mayor’s proposed FY17 budget

We greatly appreciate that the mayor’s proposed budget includes $1.1 million to keep DC’s Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (better known as the SLED database) stable and fully staffed. SLED has been a critical tool in transforming the District’s approach to decision-making in education. While SLED on its own is a reliable and useful data warehouse, because of partnerships like those with the college access providers, OSSE staff have already started taking SLED’s utility to the next level – namely, to reach more audiences of education data consumers to create user-friendly tools for more networks and to support the use of SLED for data-driven decision making at all levels.

In addition to the important education research underway hinging on the availability and analysis of data from SLED, it’s also important to note that SLED plays a critical role in the development of a comprehensive and coordinated workforce development system. The District’s Draft WIOA State Plan outlines plans to create a uniform system of intake, assessment, and referrals that is predicated on the maintenance of SLED. As the District moves towards a career pathways approach to workforce development, it’s critical that data on a resident’s educational and workforce experience can be shared across systems and, eventually, be made accessible to providers to streamline the eligibility and assessment processes. As other agencies look to build out on the success of the District’s education database, maintaining staffing levels and quality within the SLED team is key.   We encourage Council to hold this investment stable and ensure full operational capacity of SLED in the years to come. 

Youth Workforce Development - $870,000-$1,000,000 (Maintain FY16 expenditures for in-school youth programming; the baseline amount is still being clarified)

As Latin American Youth Center youth Ademir Delcid shared with us a few weeks back, maintaining school-based workforce development programming is a critical component of the District’s youth workforce development system. Through academic enrichment, exposing youth to work readiness skills, and offering project-based learning, in school youth programming provides workforce development to students to help keep them engaged in high school and prepare them for successful postsecondary transitions.

Under WIOA, federal expenditures for in school programs will be reduced to a maximum of 25% of the District’s total federal allocation of $2.3 million annually. At this funding mark, in school youth services would be significantly reduced. DC’s Draft WIOA State Plan includes a proposed strategy to blend the District’s reduced in school allocation with funding that flows through the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to make all in school youth programs accessible to youth with disabilities. While this is an important step forward for the District in serving youth with disabilities, the capacity of the District's provider community to serve this population well is currently limited, and will require investments in training and technical assistance.  DCAYA believes that current funding for in school programs should be maintained at $870,000, and additional funding should be allocated for capacity building within the District’s in school youth providers to ensure all DC youth have access to high quality and developmentally appropriate in school workforce training. 

Youth Homelessness - $800,000 (2.3 million is included in the Mayor’s proposed FY17 budget) 
(Corrected April 5, 2016. The DHS Budget book incorrectly stated the 2017 enhancement was $3.1 million.)

The mayor’s proposed budget includes $2.3 million in new funding for homeless youth services. Since the passage of the 2014 End Youth Homelessness Amendment Act, local funding for homeless youth services has remained at $1.3 million per year, which in 2014 represented just a 15% increase to homeless youth resources from the budget passed in the previous year. It was a modest increase given the mandates of the Act, but at the time, we still had incomplete data to quantify the actual need. With the start of the annual Homeless Youth Census, we now know more.

The census data makes clear that we’ll need to scale up prevention services in the year ahead, as well as add to our supply of crisis beds and transitional and independent living spaces for youth, if we are to get to the point that actual youth homelessness in the District becomes rare, brief and non-recurring by 2020. We applaud the mayor for recognizing this need and urge the council to adopt a budget that includes this important investment. There will be additional details on the DHS budget in the coming few weeks!


That's all for now! Check back next week for a closer look at our first budget ask: expanded access to transportation supports for re-engaging youth.