In the past, families had to provide complex income and residency documentation in order to enroll. Now, thanks to creative thinking and effective data sharing between DCPS and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, schools that have at least 70% of their students eligible for free and reduced lunches can take advantage of a much simpler online process (only 8 DCPS schools do not qualify). Here is the DCPS website with full details.
This new, online enrollment process makes 3 important improvements:
1.) Removes barriers to enrollment for many families.
Last year, DCAYA cited serious concerns with DCPS’ approach to enrollment. We were apprehensive that the decision to move to a central enrollment fair at a single location would have a number of unintended consequences for economically insecure families. The additional financial and opportunity costs of navigating enrollment, created a burden for those students and families who benefit the most from expanded learning opportunities.
By moving enrollment online, parents can now enroll their child at a time and place that is doable for them. They will not need to take time off work or travel far in order to produce proof of income, proof of relationship, and proof of residency documentation. School computers will be available for families who do not have access to computers.
2.) Guarantees each enrolled student is placed in an afterschool program
If the student is enrolled between now and July 11th, DCPS will guarantee them a seat in an afterschool program. The second enrollment period is July 21st-August 20th, but student placement, at that point, will depend on the availability of space.
3.) Eliminates major paperwork burdens for the DCPS-OSTP staff.
In the last few years, local funding for afterschool programming has declined. This has left DCPS-OSTP almost entirely funded by federal TANF dollars. TANF funding comes with restrictions on how the money can be used; in the past, schools had to prove compliance to the TANF requirements when serving low-income children in afterschool programs. This was extremely complicated and time-intensive, but was required in order to keep the TANF funding. To make matters worse, the budget cuts which made programs reliant on TANF funding, also cut the staff capacity of the DCPS-OSTP office, leaving fewer people to manage the intensive reporting requirements.
This year, through thoughtful collaboration, DCPS-OSTP and OSSE were able to develop a much simpler mechanism to demonstrate the funds were indeed serving the target population by using the data already being collected and reported on the number of students eligible for free lunches. By eliminating the burdensome documentation collection at the majority of schools, DCPS-OSTP staff will spend less time chasing down paperwork and more time focusing on quality programming.
Last year, DCPS-OSTP listened to our community’s concerns and worked with us on a creative solution to meet the needs of all parties involved. Such cross-sector collaboration, feedback, and implementation is a resounding feat which ultimately benefits the population DCPS-OSTP and the DCAYA community works to serve – the youth.
Please pass this information onto parents and youth in your programs so they may use the online platform to place their child into an afterschool enrichment program, ensuring all youth have access to these critical development opportunities.
DCAYA would like to thank Daniela Grigioni, Manager of External Relations for Afterschool Programs for DCPS, and all those who worked with her in this process. You were a great listener and have worked hard to make online enrollment possible. Thank you!
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