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:


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

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

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


Anonymous said...

Chancellor - have you observed an afterschool program personally? My school's program and coordinator are the best thing in DCPS. How will you provide services to all the children while firing 25 persons from this program? This is a nationally recognized program, listed in the top 10. Why kill the most successful and visibly effective program in DCPS. We need this for KIDS and Parents!!!!!

JFuji said...

With the reduction in funding and people (institutional knowledge, community connections, partnership experience) how will the same level (and quality) of programming be maintained? Will enrollment be cut wrt last year's numbers? Where will manpower to run and monitor the programs be found - in principals and local school staff?? Why are the principals at the two schools my children attend still in the dark on all of this? We were enrolling our kids at this time last year. Will we clarity or just more "spin"?

Maggie Riden said...

Hi All- As an update, DCPS did post a response to this blog earlier this afternoon. We are still comparing their response to what we have seen in various budget documents, and what we're hearing from school partners. As this continues to evolve we will certainly keep you posted, so keep checking in for an update.

All the best,

Maggie Riden said...

Our updated blog is up! Take a look. Despite DCPS assurances we remain concerned due to lack of firm data.

Anonymous said...

DCPS seems intent on obfuscating and misleading Council at budget hearings tomorrow. Budget cuts to AfterSchool of >50%, staff cut to 11 @ central office +3 coordinators for the entire system. Regardless of the testimony tomorrow, the numbers do not work and cannot provide quality programs. DC Council should take DCPS testimony UNDER OATH.