Wednesday, May 20, 2015

DC FY16 Budget Update: Big Wins for Youth Programs

While the final budget vote happens on May 27 at 10am (watch here: http://dccouncil.us/videos) many committee budget votes have already occurred – which means DCAYA has a pretty good sense about the final results of the FY16 budget.

Keep reading to see our community's budget wins …



Afterschool


DC Trust: The Committee on Health and Human Services, which oversees the Trust, committed an additional $2 million to the Trust’s baseline budget. With this additional funding, the DC Trust will be able to fulfill the majority of their grant commitments to afterschool programs. Much of the funding, $1.6 million, was moved over from the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, thanks to Councilmember Mary Cheh. Councilmember Yvette Alexander filled the resulting gap with just over $400,000 through reallocating funding from within two different health agency budgets. Although advocates originally pushed for an additional $2.5 million, the resulting $2 million is a huge win for afterschool programs and speaks to the power of our members and the community speaking up to testify on behalf of their life-changing programs.

DCPS: The Committee on Education did not find the $6.5 million to stop the cuts to DCPS afterschool, which will result in a cut to 25 cluster coordinators within the DCPS Out-of-School Time Office. The committee budget report rationalizes the cut with the following explanation, “DCPS has assured the Committee and school communities that there will be no reduction in service levels to families in FY16.” However, the committee report went on to say “The Committee also encourages DCPS to monitor this situation throughout the summer and utilize reserve funds, if necessary, to fill any gaps to service to families that may arise as a result of funding challenges for CBOs.” In other words, since DCPS insisted there was no need for the money that was cut, the chair of the committee, Councilmember David Grosso, was not in a position to fill that cut. We will continue to work closely with Councilmember Grosso to monitor the situation and offer on-the-ground feedback from CBOs and schools.


Youth Homelessness


Single Youth: Funding for homeless youth services remains stable at $1.3 million by the Committee on Health and Human Services in an effort to properly scale initiatives through data-informed measures. Advocates supported this funding mark and are continuing to collect data on homeless youth with the newly established Coordinated Intake System. Through the collected data, advocates and DC agencies will have a greater understanding on the investments needed to stabilize homeless youth and guide them onto a path of self sufficiency.

Youth-Headed Families: The mayor’s allocation of $40 million to replace DC General through FY17 was confirmed by the Committee on Health and Human Services.

Parenting Minors: The Committee on Transportation and the Environment, under the leadership of Councilmember Cheh, moved $500,000 to the Committee on Health and Human Services to pay for an interim housing pilot specific to homeless, parenting minors. As a recent Washington Post article illustrated, homeless minors with children have few housing options. The pilot will begin to fill the service gap for homeless, parenting minors who do not experience levels of abuse and neglect that warrants CFSA involvement and cannot access adult shelters because they are under 18.


Youth Workforce Development


SYEP Evaluation: During a Committee of the Whole legislative session, the Council approved an amendment introduced by Councilmember Elissa Silverman to require DOES to produce and publish basic information on SYEP participants, including long-term employment outcomes and participation levels at various points in the program. The amendment also lays the groundwork for the development of a rigorous SYEP evaluation to determine a baseline of program quality and identify opportunities for effective interventions within program design and delivery. Along with an amendment introduced by Councilmember Jack Evans to cap SYEP enrollment for youth 22-24 at 1,000 slots, an SYEP evaluation will go a long way to ensure that Mayor Bowser’s additional investment in SYEP of $5.2 million will be used effectively to engage youth 14-24 in a quality career exposure and work readiness training experience.

UDC Funding Restored: In a letter to Council outlining revisions to her proposed FY16 budget (called the Errata Letter), Mayor Bowser included the restoration of $3.5 million to the University of the District of Columbia. The mayor also committed to working with the UDC flagship and the community college to ensure that this investment will benefit programs that place DC residents on career pathways.


Disconnected Youth


Expansion of Kids Ride Free: At the Committee for Finance and Revenue budget oversight hearing for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Committee Chairman Jack Evans expressed concerns about Mayor Bowser’s expansion of Kids Ride Free to rail. The Committee’s budget report stated that the Committee is “analyzing the funding sources for the School Transit Subsidy program to better understand the administration and distribution of the proposed $7 million for Kids Ride Free”. After discussions with Councilmember Evans’ office, DCAYA is confident that the funding for Kids Ride Free is indeed secure, and the Councilmember will work to ensure the sustainability of the program.


SLED Remains Stable: While the Committee on Education expressed their commitment to the maintenance and continuation of the Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (SLED), the needed $1.36 million was not secured to fill the gap left by an expiring federal grant. However, the Committee and DCAYA received assurances from OSSE that a reduction in personnel-related funds will be absorbed internally through efficiency and prioritization and SLED will not suffer as a result. DCAYA will continue to monitor SLED’s operation, but we are confident in OSSE's commitment to maintain the system.



For more on youth issues in DC you can FOLLOW us on Twitter, LIKE us on Facebook,SUBSCRIBE to this blog and VISIT us at www.dc-aya.org.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"Step Up, Door's Closing"


Budget Hearings for FY16 are (for the most part) complete! Now the DC Council is reviewing testimony, striking deals, and collaborating with colleagues as budget markup moves into full swing.

Like most years, transportation is a hot-button issue, and if you were one of the poor souls stranded in Virginia on Monday, you know why.

However, while commuters are reeling over being late to work because of metro delays (a completely valid concern), low-income residents are still struggling with how to afford efficient transportation to and from school or work.




If this initiative passes the DC Council budget markup, low-income and disconnected youth will have a greater chance to connect to opportunities across the DMV!

In DCAYA's study "Connecting Youth to Opportunity: Better Understanding the Needs of Disconnected Young People in Washington, DC," youth reported spending an average of $120 a month on transportation for school and work.


While this barrier was significantly reduced with the establishment of Kids Ride Free in 2013, the initiative did not include rail and only served youth 21 and younger. As a recent Harvard University study points out, transportation is the #1 barrier to economic mobility.


Also, as DC continues to grow, more and more low-income residents are traveling farther distances to get to work.


Increasing access to affordable transportation is key to supporting a sustainable pathway to the middle class. This is why DCAYA is so excited about the Kids Ride Free expansion to rail!

However, the initiative only serves youth 21 and younger. Older youth who often face compounding barriers (childcare, homelessness, criminal record, etc) while striving to obtain their diploma, must still overcome the financial burden of transportation.


Help us educate the DC Council and promote a modest extension of the Kids Ride Free program to include youth through age 24 who are connected to a Local Education Agency (LEA). This small budget increase of an estimated $704,705 to Kids Ride Free, would have a huge impact on youth struggling to complete their education and become a contributing member of the community.

Be sure to thank Mayor Bowser (@MayorBowser) for the Kids Ride Free Expansion and tweet to Councilmembers: Phil Mendelson (@VoteMendo), Vincent Orange (@VOrangeDC), Anita Bonds (@AnitaBondsDC), David Grosso (@cmdgrosso), Elissa Silverman (@tweetelissa), Brianne Nadeau (@BrianneKNadeau), Jack Evans (@JackEvansWard2), Mary Cheh (@marycheh), Brandon Todd (@brandonttodd), Kenyan McDuffie (@kenyanmcduffie), Charles Allen (@CharlesAllenW6), Yvette Alexander (@CMYMA ), and LaRuby May (@LaRubyMay) to support the success of older youth!



For more on youth issues in DC you can FOLLOW us on Twitter, LIKE us on Facebook,SUBSCRIBE to this blog and VISIT us at www.dc-aya.org.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Face the Truth: DC Trust Budget Reduction will Hurt 2,391 Students

In past blogs, DCAYA has talked a lot about the DCPS afterschool budget cut and the effect it will have on the afterschool infrastructure by laying off 25 DCPS-OSTP coordinators.

Read more about the DCPS budget cut: Budget Cuts to DC Afterschool Programs

Sadly, the damage to afterschool programming doesn’t stop there. The DC Trust did not receive $2.5 million for their afterschool grants in the proposed FY16 budget. These afterschool grants support 78 youth-serving organizations across the District. Programs like DC SCORES, Higher Achievement, and Words, Beats, & Life, Inc., are just a few DC Trust grantees who will lose funding if the $2.5 million is not restored.

The impact these organizations’ have on a students’ development goes beyond just words. View the faces of the children and youth who may lose their favorite afterschool programs if funding is not restored and sustained for future budget cycles.

Save DC's Afterschool Programs by Slidely Slideshow


There is still time to save the funding for afterschool programs and restore the $2.5 million for afterschool grants! The DC Trust Budget Oversight Hearing is on Friday, May 1 at 10AM at the Wilson Building. Parents, providers, students, and community members can testify! Below are links and resources to sign up to testify.

Sign-up to Testify: DC Trust Budget Hearing

Common Questions about Testifying: Resources for Advocacy Season

Example Testimonies: Advocates Testify to Keep Out-of-School Time Funding Stable


Also, sign the petition to save afterschool funding! The combined cuts to afterschool programs will put extreme pressure on youth development organizations and harm students eager to learn about the world outside of the classroom. Stand up for these programs by signing and sharing the petition with family members, parents, and neighbors.


All young people deserve a safe, fun, and positive learning environment between the hours of 3pm and 6pm. Join the #SaveAfterschoolDC conversation on social media and ask DC Council to Save Afterschool!



For more on youth issues in DC you can FOLLOW us on Twitter, LIKE us on Facebook,SUBSCRIBE to this blog and VISIT us at www.dc-aya.org.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Budget Blog Part II

Today’s blog comes to you as Part 2 of our team’s analysis of Mayor Bower’s proposed DC Budget for 2016. The Mayor’s proposal is now before Council where, through a series of upcoming public hearings and advocacy meetings, it will be debated and revised by Council Committees before it goes to a final vote.

Last week, we brought forward our concerns about the DCPS afterschool budget. Now we would like to turn our analysis to older youth services and system-level investments. We encourage you to take a look at our analysis and then testify about your particular concerns at DC Council budget hearings.

Please note that our analysis will become more nuanced as we are able to clarify details about the budget. To keep up with the latest information, sign up to our mailing list.






EDUCATION

Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE):
  • The budget does not replenish $1.36 million in SLED’s federal funding that will lapse in FY16. We are hopeful that OSSE and the DME will find a solution that both supports SLED's continued strength and OSSE's capacity. We trust that Council, in its oversight role, will monitor this process and step in if necessary. Read about the importance of SLED: Seize the SLED
  • The funding mark for Career and Technical Education is cut by 18% ($1.2m) in the FY16 budget. This reflects a broader-based cut that reduces OSSE’s ability to expand the number of Career Academies as previously planned. Career Academies already in operation will not be affected.
  • Funding for the DC ReEngagement Center is sustained within the budget, yet we are concerned that staff reductions of 2.5 FTEs within the office of OSSE’s Assistant Superintendent of Postsecondary and Career Education might impact Center staff. 
  • We are still trying to determine the status of the federal 21st Century Learning Grants that pass through OSSE to community-based afterschool providers. The 21st Century Learning Grant is a formula grant so it should remain stable, however that is not apparent in the FY16 budget. We will update you if we find out that this $6 million is, in fact, not available for FY16.
    • Updated 4/16/15: As confirmed by the OSSE Assistant Superintendent, the 21st Century Learning Grants are secure for the upcoming school year.

DC Public Schools and Public Charter Schools

  • Afterschool funding has been cut by 50%. 25 coordinators and central office staff will be laid off. This will erase all of the hard work from previous years to develop a strong afterschool infrastructure that ensures students are enrolled in and receiving quality programming. At the school level, afterschool money was moved to pay for extended day. Read for more information: http://www.dc-aya.org/news/SaveAfterschoolDC
  • While $32 million in new investments were added to the DCPS budget, alternative schools and adult education schools were notably not included in FY16 improvement plans. Increasing capacity in these alternative placements is critical to successfully place disconnected youth into educational programs.

DCAYA Ask: DCAYA will advocate for the DC Council to fully fund SLED by replacing the $1.36 million with local funds, maintaining the District’s burgeoning educational data warehouse. We are also asking the DC Council to fully fund afterschool at $6.5 million. Sign the petition here.

OSSE Budget Hearing: April 30, 10AM, Wilson Building Room 500

DCPS Budget Hearing: April 23, 10AM, Wilson Building, Room 412



YOUTH HOMELESSNESS

Department of Human Services

  • Funding for homeless youth services in the Department of Human Services budget appears to remain stable, in large part thanks to last year’s legislation. Currently advocates and the Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) are working to distribute the FY15 funding to providers as quickly as possible. The ICH is also working to develop a youth-specific strategic plan that will guide future funding in this area. The strategic plan will be developed from the data collected from the new coordinated entry system.
  • One gap that the coordinated entry work has highlighted is policy and programming for homeless minor-headed families. Currently, minors with their children cannot access housing services through VA Williams because they are minors, and they cannot access housing services for minors because they have children. Filling this gap will take resources that are not identified in the current budget. 

DCAYA Ask: DCAYA will advocate for the DC Council to keep youth homelessness funding stable and ask Council to consider the impact of a minor-headed families policy change on the DHS budget.

DHS Budget Hearing: April 24, 10AM, Wilson Building Room 500



EXPANDED LEARNING

Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp 
  • The DC Trust is funded again at a $3 million baseline. As we have advocated in the past, this leaves the Trust to rely on leftover funding from other agencies to fund critical afterschool and summer programs for youth. At this time, the Trust will not be able to fulfill their final year of funding for their 3-year grants to 33 afterschool providers.

DCAYA Ask: For DC Council to give the Trust an additional $2.5 million to cover the already-committed afterschool grants and $3 million to pay for summer programming.

DC Trust Budget Hearing: May 1, 10AM, Wilson Building Room 412



YOUTH WORKFORCE

Department of Employment Services/Workforce Investment Council
  • Funding to the DOES Summer Youth Employment Program increased by $3.2 million from FY15. This is the result of a decrease of $2 million from the program’s base budget and an enhancement of $5.2 million to expand the program to serve youth 22-24, increase SYEP pay to the minimum wage ($8.25/hr for youth 16-24), and provide free transportation for the full six-week program.
    • Updated 4/21/15:  DOES has stated that the base budget for SYEP will not decrease, remaining flat at the FY15 level of $12.1 million plus an enhancement of $5.2 million. Therefore, the total budget for SYEP in FY16 will be $17.3 million, and DOES has submitted a request for Technical Correction to change this funding mark in the budget book
    • Year-round programming provided by DOES will see an increase of $2.3 million, which reflects an increase in our federal funding as well as $1.67 million increase in local funds from FY15.
      • Updated 4/21/15:  DOES has stated that funding for Year Round Programs will not see increased funding and will remain flat at the FY15 level of $9.9 million. DOES has submitted a request for Technical Correction to change this funding mark in the budget book.
    University of the District of Columbia
    • DC funding for UDC/UDC-CC was reduced by $5 million. While a portion of this cut accounts for the removal of one-time funding, we are concerned that the remaining $3.5 million cut might inequitably impact programs and services offered by UDC-CC.

    Department of Transportation
    • Mayor Bowser has included an additional $7 million to WMATA’s budget to expand Kids Ride Free to rails, which is an incredible, and smart investment in youth across the District

    DCAYA Ask: While it is encouraging to see the ratio of the District’s investments in SYEP to year-round level off from 2:1 in FY14 to 1.7:1 in FY16, we are still concerned by the changes that this budget makes to the overall youth workforce landscape. DCAYA will advocate for full funding of youth workforce development programs beyond the SYEP expansion to age 24 to ensure the District is able to connect these older youth to employment and further training beyond the six-week summer program.

    As for the expansion of the Kids Ride Free Program, DCAYA is very happy to see Mayor Bowser’s commitment to removing the barrier of transportation costs for youth in the District in her first budget. This expansion will have a huge impact on a young person’s ability to make it to school on time, and to get to a part-time job or internship without breaking the bank. Nevertheless, many youth who are working through multiple barriers and have reconnected to alternative education still lack access to Kids Ride Free. We are advocating during budget hearings for the DC Council to explore expanding Kids Ride Free for the approximately 720 youth 22-24 who are connected to an LEA.


    DOES/WIC Budget Hearing: April 27, 10AM, Wilson Building Room 500

    UDC/UDC-CC Budget Hearing: April 20, 10AM, Wilson Building Room 412



    Be on the lookout for an email from us with complete budget talking points and tips for testifying at DC Council budget hearings!




    DC Alliance of Youth Advocates envisions a community where no youth is considered at-risk and where all are respected as valued members of society. Facilitating robust community input on the DC Budget to ensure smart, stable funding that positively impacts DC youth is a major part of our work. Please check our website calendar for opportunities to have your voice heard at an upcoming DC Council Budget Hearing.




    To read more about youth issues in DC you can FOLLOW us on Twitter, LIKE us on Facebook and VISIT us at www.dc-aya.org.

    Friday, April 10, 2015

    Response to DCPS's "FY16 Afterschool and Extended Day Overview"

    Photo courtesy of Kid Power, an afterschool and summer program.
    After our last blog on the cuts to afterschool funding, DCPS released a statement attempting to clarify the afterschool funding for next year. Unfortunately, the data and explanations they offer in this new statement still seem to indicate that afterschool programming will be reduced.  

    We spent time today working with DCPS to understand their statement and the difference between our analyses. One problem that we identified together is that the internal budget documents they are using do not reflect the same numbers as the Mayor’s budget. While we understand that school-based funding can be prone to frequent readjustments, we do hope that in the near future we can all be working with identical, clear information at the school level, and the aggregate level. DCPS has been gracious in helping resolve this, and we both are committed to continuing dialogue about this important issue affecting students and families. We are also committed to helping them improve their data and analysis as they do the difficult work of budgeting for a myriad of variables.

    Moving forward we hope that DCPS, along with the DC Council - who has the power to change this budget - will take a closer look at the quality of the data and analysis leading to cuts in afterschool programs.

    Here are our top concerns specifically regarding the most recent DCPS statement on afterschool funding. These have been shared with DCPS and we have included updates from them where applicable.

    1.) The chart provided by DCPS shows that school-level afterschool programming was funded at $3.7m in FY15 and will drop to $2.9m in FY16. However, in a later paragraph, it references having to fill a FY15 and FY16 budget gap of $6.5m in funding lost in late FY14. This would then suggest that the difference between FY15 and FY16 is much larger than referenced in the chart. We are continuing to work with DCPS to understand what staff positions or services this $6.5m covered, and how this loss of funding may impact FY16. 

    2.) DCPS is increasing the number of schools that have extended day from 25 to 65, but only adding $800,000 to do this. According to the chart, it took $5.4m to have extended day in 25 schools, so realistically it does not seem possible that only $800,000 is needed to add 40 more schools. Clarity on the budget process here is needed.

    3.) Last year, the Chancellor offered Extended Day to 50 schools, and according to the chart, only 25 schools chose to add the extra hour (many of those schools only accepted Extended Day for certain grades). The chart says that 65 schools will have Extended Day next year, but there is no analysis that shows that 65 schools will actually agree to implement the practice. Since there was no known discussion with the teacher’s union, parents, or the wider community, it does not seem that Extended Day should be budgeted for 40 new schools when it is unlikely that it will be implemented in 40 schools. 

    4.) The chart shows an estimated 7,000 students were enrolled in Extended Day last year. There is no explanation for how this estimation was reached. More problematic is that ‘TBD’ is listed for the students expected to be served in Extended Day in FY16. We find it troubling that budget decisions are being made without well-founded estimates on simple data, like estimated youth to be served. We hope this issue will be addressed moving forward.

    5.) The chart also does not explain how many of those estimated 7,000 students in Extended Day in FY15 overlapped with the 6,790 who were in afterschool. In the narrative of the FY16 budget, DCPS stated that they want to grow Extended Day based on improved DCCAS scores that were found at schools with Extended Day. However, it appears that this funding is not based off of a “clean” sample. It is possible, if not likely, that the students who improved their test scores were in afterschool programs as well as Extended Day. Before major budget reallocations happen, causation should be more closely analyzed. Afterschool could, in fact, be the cause of improved test scores and de-funding it would drive test scores down. 

    6.) Many DCPS programs already have the first hour focused on academics, not including homework; it is called the Academic Power Hour. The DCPS afterschool programs have a curriculum that was developed by the Central Office’s Office of Out-of-School Time Programs that aligns the Power Hour with Common Core. All DCPS sponsored afterschool programs use Power Hour. If DCPS truly wants students to have another hour in the classroom, like Extended Day would have, then it should require all community-based organizations providing afterschool to implement the Power Hour. The advantage of using the afterschool Power Hour, rather than Extended Day, is the community-based afterschool providers can come in and assist the teacher. Also, with this model, community-based organizations can still have enough time with the students in order to meet their grant requirements. 

    7.) Many of the afterschool programs rely on partnerships with community-based organizations like DC Scores, Horton’s Kids, Kid Power, etc. These organizations rely on funding from grants made by the DC Trust or other Federal grants. Often, to meet grant requirements, programs must spend a specified amount of time each day with students. That is why the recent DCPS statement is not completely accurate when it says that schools can have Extended Day and afterschool. With one hour blocked off for Extended Day, community-based organizations may not be able to meet grant requirements, and thus won’t be able to partner with those schools. Schools that offer Extended Day to certain grades could still work with CBO partners to provide afterschool to the remaining students. However, given the reduction in coordinators and overall community-based funding streams, we worry that this may remain difficult and not fully resolve our capacity concerns. 
    • The amount of in-kind services that DCPS afterschool receives from its community-based partners cannot be understated. It is estimated to be $20m. If, because of time restrictions due to Extended Day, these community-based organizations cannot secure their sources of funding, then DCPS will lose part, if not all, of this $20m. 
    8.) According to the chart, it took $5.4m to pay for one hour of Extended Day at 25 schools in FY15. Also according to the chart, it only took $3.7m (or, more accurately, $6.5m) to pay for two-three hours at 55 schools. Based on these numbers, afterschool programs are cheaper than extended day. So cost-savings does not seem to justify the decision to move to an Extended Day model vs. an afterschool model.

    9.) The DCPS statement was very clear about afterschool funding for central office staff: It will be cut drastically. As it is stated in the budget, 25 afterschool staff members will lose their jobs due to the funding cut. The new statement simply says “tasks can be absorbed by other DCPS teams.” This is concerning because there is no indication of a plan for which “other teams” will absorb the tasks. In addition, it is difficult to believe that other DCPS teams have additional time within their workday to effectively facilitate coordination between schools and CBOs.
    • What a loss of coordinators will mean: Principals, or other over-stretched school staff members, will have to coordinate logistics (facilities, paperwork, security, etc.) for multiple programs and hundreds of kids. Community-based organizations may have to end several partnerships because of the barriers this change will cause. With community-based organizations bringing $20m to DCPS afterschool programs, this change could result in a significant loss of resources provided to DCPS children.  
    • What a loss of OSTP central office staff will mean: When situations arise, coordinators will not have recourse from a central location with expertise and the ability to engage in a higher level discussion with principals or community-based organizations. Because the OSTP staff ensures that DCPS is partnering with quality providers, the overall quality of afterschool programming will decrease. The strategic approach to blending the traditional school day with quality afterschool partners will be lost. Without the central office, there will not be personnel to quickly respond to incoming data on enrollment, afterschool meal coordination, etc. The intensive, complicated afterschool enrollment system will lose quality, and there will be more barriers to students enrolling—the OSTP staff has to do intensive, behind-the-scenes work to address TANF eligibility requirements and making enrollment more accessible to parents. 

    In closing, we look forward to seeing the most up-to-date individual school funding for afterschool, as promised in the DCPS statement, both for the sake of policy decision-makers and parents. As we have in the past, we urge local funding for afterschool programming instead of moving money within the agency or relying on unstable federal grants. Further, we hope the DC Council, DCPS, and sister agencies recognize that the funding cuts to DCPS afterschool programs is happening at a time when the Trust afterschool grants are at-risk and it appears that the federal 21st Century Learning grants may not be available (at the same level) for the District. DCPS, the DC Trust, and 21st Century Learning grants are the main sources of funding for afterschool programs across the District. The afterschool funding landscape appears dire at this point.

    We are still engaging in conversations with DCPS and look forward to talking more with the Education Committee and the DC Council on crafting a budget that is protects this valuable resource.





    On Monday, April 13th, DCAYA will publish tools to help providers and parents advocate to keep CBO-run afterschool programs within DC public schools. Sign-up to our mailing list to be one of the first to receive the advocacy strategy and get timely updates on all youth-related news in DC. 








    To read more about youth issues in DC you can FOLLOW us on Twitter, LIKE us on Facebook and VISIT us at www.dc-aya.org.

    Wednesday, April 08, 2015

    Budget Cuts to DC Afterschool Programs

    It’s that time of year again: The DCAYA team brings you our analysis of the newly released DC budget.

    This year, we’re going to split our analysis into two sections. Part 1, today’s blog, will focus on cuts in the DCPS afterschool budget. Next week, Part 2 ,will focus on our concerns related to older youth services and system level investments.

    **To preface, this analysis is in its working stages. We are actively tracking down greater details about the budget. Nonetheless, we have identified some clear areas of concern that we did not want to delay in getting out to parents, service providers, and other community partners. I strongly encourage you to continue to visit our blog, Twitter, Facebook and website for updates as the budget analysis process continues.

    Concern regarding Afterschool Funding:

    Overview:

    Just last year, DC ranked #2 in the country for having the best afterschool programs. Over 7,200 students were enrolled in afterschool programs and  DCPS stated its commitment to universal access to afterschool programming. Why? Afterschool programs, or expanded learning opportunities, have been shown to improve academic, social/emotional , health and safety aspects of students’ lives. Working parents, particularly for those with younger children and limited income, need afterschool programs for economic stability and the safety of their children.

    Yet, after examining the budget documents for the upcoming year, which were released April 2, we know with certainty that broad, deep funding cuts will result in thousands of students not being able to attend afterschool programs next year, unless Council makes immediate changes to the budget.

    It appears that DCPS is moving afterschool money to fund extended day. One important difference between afterschool programs and extended day is that afterschool programs go until 5:30pm or 6pm, while extended day typically only goes until 4:15. Another difference is that extended day is an extra hour in the classroom, typically with the same teacher, while afterschool programs often bring in community-based organizations to tutor students, provide physical activities, and cover hands-on learning not usually possible in traditional classrooms.

    In-Depth Analysis:

    1) There is massive a reduction in DCPS school-based afterschool program funding:

    We are deeply concerned about the disconnection between the school-level budgets and the budget guide produced by DCPS. Take for example the difference between the Budget Guide and the actual school specific budget for Beers Elementary. The budget guide -which many use to understand services at their school -states that Beers Elementary will have an afterschool program. Yet, in the school-specific budget cited above, and in the budget submitted to council, all funding to Beers afterschool program has been removed. In our analysis, Beers is not unique. As many as 22 schools show a similar disconnect between the programming messaged to parents, and what appears in the school level budgets. [1]

    Our analysis suggests that DCPS is funding Extended Day at these schools instead of afterschool programs. The degree to which this change has been communicated to parents or principals is unclear and concerning.
     

    2) There is an almost complete divestment in the infrastructure for afterschool programs at the DCPS Central Office:

    The remaining 32 or 33 schools that will have afterschool next year (provided by DCPS and in partnership with community-based organizations) will lose almost all of the infrastructure support provided by the central office.

    From what we can tell, cluster coordinators charged with facilitating partnerships between schools and community-based organizations, have been largely eliminated. The budget indicates a reduction of about 23 positions from the DCPS Central Office of Out-of-School Time Programs.

    To put this in historical context, close to a decade ago, our community fought hard for afterschool coordinators. We needed individuals responsible for identifying potential partners, facilitating partnerships and maintaining the already onerous paperwork requirements necessary to fund and sustain partnerships between schools and CBOs. Reduced in 2011 and 2012, schools and CBOs have had to make do with a single coordinator responsible for 2-3 schools. Not ideal, but manageable.

    We are now returning to the days where each individual school will be responsible for negotiating ad-hoc partnerships with no overarching support. With a lack of central coordination, vetting, or oversight, scaling up quality afterschool programs with quality school partners is essentially impossible.


    3) There are major reductions in other, non-DCPS funding for afterschool programs:

    The DC Trust is currently slotted for a $3 million dollar investment. While at first glance this looks consistent with past years, it is not. The reality is, that due to budgeting processes of the prior administration, the DC Trust actually needs an additional $2 million to maintain school-year grants (which are 3-year grant commitments pending funding).

    In terms of federal funding, the TANF funding for afterschool co-payments, which passes through DHS to DCPS, has dropped by over 50%. The DC budget also shows no federal 21st Century Learning Grant funding which provided $5.6 million for afterschool programs last year. We are currently figuring out if there is a way DC can obtain 21st Century funding again for next year.

    In short this means the partners that add capacity to DCPS sponsored afterschool programs may also have to reduce the number of students they serve.

    So what can you do?

    Ask your principal about your school’s afterschool budget and plan.

    What you are seeing in the budget book on the DCPS website, and what is actually budgeted for and planned for your school next year, may not match. Ask your principal if your school is doing extended day or afterschool.

    Let Councilmembers know. Call/email/tweet Councilmembers or show up to testify in front of them at Council. If you would like help preparing what you would like to say to Councilmembers, DCAYA is happy to help, just email us at info@dc-aya.org.

    Join DCAYA in our #SaveAfterschoolDC Campaign on Twitter.

    If you have any questions or concerns about afterschool funding or other aspects of the budget, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at angela@dc-aya.org

    Teaser for next week’s Part 2 blog:

    • We remain concerned about SLED funding given the conclusion of federal funding in FY16 and no local funding to support the continuation of this critical piece of infrastructure.
    • We are cautiously optimistic about increased investments in year-round youth workforce programming, but concerned about cuts to adult education.
    • We are deeply relieved to see investments in the plan to end homelessness for families, adults AND unaccompanied youth. 
    Stay tuned for more!


    [1] To put this in context: In 2014-2015 DCPS operated 55 traditional afterschool program sites and 4 21st Century Learning Center sites at elementary and middle schools covering roughly 60% of the elementary, middle school and education campuses 

    Updated 4/13/2015 - See DCPS's response and DCAYA's update

    DCPS 4/9/15: FY16 Afterschool and Extended Day Overview

    DCAYA 4/10/15: Response to DCPS's "FY16 Afterschool and Extended Day Overview"


    Maggie Riden is the Executive Director of DC Alliance of Youth Advocates. During her tenor at DCAYA, Maggie has seen the ebb and flow of youth program funding during each DC budget season. Join us this year as we advocate to save DC's afterschool infrastructure reinstate quality expanded learning investments through our social media campaign #SaveAfterschoolDC.








    To read more about youth issues in DC you can FOLLOW us on Twitter, LIKE us on Facebook and VISIT us at www.dc-aya.org.

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    Afterschool Programs For The Win!

    In DC, 35% of children and youth participate in afterschool programs, while 66% would participate if a program was available. This week, we have a special guest blog from WNBA assistant couch Eric Thibault who witnesses firsthand the transformative power of sports on a young person's social, mental, and physical development. Eric is a DCAYA "Afterschool Champ" for his advocacy in expanding access to afterschool sports programs for DC girls.

    The blog 'tips off' DCAYA's eBay auction for the "Ivory Latta Experience". The highest bidder will practice their backswing with basketball star Ivory Latta at the Top Golf  driving range. Along with spending quality one-on-one time with a WNBA athlete, the lucky winner will receive a signed Latta jersey and mini basketball. All proceeds will go toward DCAYA's work in expanding access to quality afterschool and summer programs for all District youth. 

    Enter Your Bid for the "Ivory Latta Experience"

    motionmailapp.com 

    As an assistant coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, I’m very lucky to have sports pay the bills. But before basketball was ever my profession, it was what I looked forward to every day: at recess, on Saturday mornings, and after school let out in the afternoon. While basketball has stuck with me and become a central part of my life, it was never the only after-school activity to grab my attention. Baseball, soccer, tennis, golf, band, creative writing, math club – I can point to each of these experiences as having a key part to play in my social, mental, and physical development.

    Learning to be a valuable part of a team is an essential and irreplaceable component of growing up, and one that is most readily accomplished through sports. Among countless other lessons, playing sports taught me how to handle winning and losing, to pursue and achieve both personal and group goals, to relate to others with different backgrounds, viewpoints and abilities than myself, to sacrifice for the good of a group, and how to handle myself in pressure-filled situations. When I was in graduate school, a classmate expressed frustration with one of our sports management group projects. Our professor, with a laugh but clearly not joking, told him to “get used to it – life is a long string of group projects.” The professor was completely right; whether you are a coach, a teacher, a chemist, a musician, an administrator, or a politician, there’s no substitute for learning how to interact and succeed within a group of varying opinions and attributes. Almost without fail, the people in that class that grew up playing team sports adapted more quickly to the tasks at hand than those who lacked that experience.

    In a more immediate sense, after-school activities directly improve the quality of life for kids. Sports help with nutrition and combat obesity, a growing problem in our country. Art and music are backed by endless amounts of research that indicates they improve academic performance. After-school programs of all kinds can help keep kids living in high-crime or poverty-stricken areas from falling into more dangerous situations. On a personal level, I know I learned arithmetic from studying basketball stat sheets and understood geometry more easily with the help of passing angles. Understanding how to curve a golf shot went hand in hand with physics class. Playing the drums in the band showed me the importance of getting on the same page with my peers in those interminable group projects.

    Above all, the part of my sports experience for which I’m most grateful was the opportunity to establish relationships with people I would not otherwise have befriended. When I was 13 years old and in middle school (a mostly-white, upper-middle class middle school), I played on a predominantly black basketball team. Some players came from money, some did not. Some had two parents at home, some had one, some had none. The thing that we all had in common was a love for basketball, and that bridge allowed us to move past any awkwardness and get to know each other as individual human beings. When you get to spend that quality time around people from different backgrounds, it shapes how you see the world. You start to see the world in shades of gray, and move away from lazy stereotypes. It’s one thing for your parents to explain tolerance, it’s another to learn it on a day-to-day basis. I have no doubt that our society would be a more accepting place if more people had similar opportunities at age 13, or younger. Being part of a sports team, school band, or debate club offers an environment where that becomes a natural consequence, where kids develop attitudes and habits that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.





    Who's your #AfterschoolChamp? Tell us on Twitter from March 25 - April 1 for a chance to win a "DCAYA Afterschool Champ Badge"!








    To read more about youth issues in DC you can FOLLOW us on Twitter, LIKE us on Facebook and VISIT us at www.dc-aya.org.