Last week was a big week for Missouri afterschool programs on the advocacy front! The week started out with Mayor Karen Best representing Missouri in Washington DC at a Congressional briefing on Tuesday, September 12. Mayor Best talked about the importance of afterschool and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program in supporting youth and families in her community. While in DC, Mayor Best also met with Senator Roy Blunt.
Read more from Mayor Best and her thoughts on the importance of afterschool, particularly for city leaders, on the National League of Cities blog here.
The week continued with some action on funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers in Congress. On Wednesday night, the House voted on an amendment to restore $100 million in funding for the program that was cut in the initial appropriations bill. Through bipartisan support, the amendment passed! There are still many hurdles in the process, as the House and Senate will work over the next few months to reconcile their appropriations bills into the final FY2018 budget. The strong bipartisan support, however, indicates that there are champions in Congress willing to fight to ensure afterschool programs remain a priority.
Click here to read more details on the Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool Snack blog.
Also, make sure to thank the 3 Missouri Congressman who voted in favor of the 21CCLC funding amendment! We send our sincerest thanks to Congressmen Lacy Clay (District 1), Blaine Luetkemeyer (District 3), and Emanuel Cleaver (District 5).
Take 3 minutes to call their offices at the numbers below to thank them for their support of afterschool!
Finally, our great week of advocacy ended with our first policymaker roundtable discussion and site visit hosted by the Eldon Learning Enriched Afterschool Program (LEAP) in Eldon, Missouri. The idea behind the event was to bring together local, state, and federal policymakers and staff to learn more about the importance of afterschool and what policies currently support programs and professionals, and to see programming in action to gain a deeper understanding of what our field means to the youth and families we serve.
The event was kicked off by our Afterschool Champion Representative David Wood (District 58), who talked about the need for afterschool programs in a time where kids and teachers simply can’t squeeze all that they need into the typical classroom or typical school day.
Terri Foulkes, Director, and Casey Hanson, Policy and Communications Coordinator, from the Missouri AfterSchool Network shared a bit about the Network and what current policies are supporting afterschool programs in Missouri, including the 21CCLC Program, the various programs funded through the Child Care Development fund, including child care subsidies, the School Age Community grant program, and the Out of School Time Partnerships, and various local efforts that help to support and sustain programs throughout the state.
Eldon Superintendent Matt Davis shared what afterschool means to the Eldon community, specifically talking about the notable academic improvements seen in the school district since starting an afterschool program in 2008. Mr. Davis also talked about a unique partnership between the school and Adient, a major local employer. Not only does the afterschool program support a large number of parents in the community who work at Adient, but the program also provides participants with an introduction to robotics, which is a need for Adient’s future workforce.
Chuck Miller, an afterschool parent, and his son Ethan, who participates in the program, shared how much the program has meant to their family. After moving into the community a few years ago, the Millers did not necessarily have the strong support base that they had in their previous community. LEAP helped support the Millers through the transition, by serving as an outlet for Ethan to meet friends and to support their working-parent household.
Finally, Colleen Abbott, LEAP director, shared with the group all of the innovative practices their professionals are implementing into their program every day, which was illustrated by the site walkthrough and tour. Policymakers were able to see youth working on building life skills through their gardening program and cooking club; preparing to be the workforce of the future through their Robotics projects; and working on social emotional control and focus while engaging in a bit of exercise through their Archery program. Much of Eldon’s success is dependent on their partnerships, which was exhibited in the Nike volunteers assisting youth with their garden projects, and the Missouri Department of Conservation partnership with the Archery program.
The event was attended by the Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Dr. Margie Vandeven, area state representatives, including Mike Bernskoetter, Rocky Miller, and Sara Walsh, representatives from Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, representatives from US Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, and several area superintendents interested in starting afterschool programs or enhancing their existing programs.
MASN will also host roundtable events this fall in St. Louis and the Sedalia area. For more information, contact Casey Hanson at firstname.lastname@example.org.