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Bipartisan Coalition Introduces Federal Bill to Expand, Improve Afterschool Programs Nationwide

July 21, 2011

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus, joined Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Patty Murray (D-WA) last week to introduce the Afterschool for America’s Children Act, which would help children and families by investing in high-quality afterschool programs across the country.

This legislation would reauthorize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program, which has allowed millions of children to attend afterschool programs over the last decade – including over 1.6 million children last year. Reauthorizing this program will ensure that children of working families continue to have a safe, well-rounded and enriching environment until the end of their parents’ work day.

Senator Boxer said, “As the author of the first major legislation to authorize federal funds for afterschool programs, I am so pleased to introduce a bill to strengthen this vital program so that our children have a safe and enriching environment when the school day ends.”

“Studies have shown the effectiveness of after school programs not only in giving children a well-rounded education, but also in reducing crime, increasing parental involvement, and improving the academic achievement of participating kids,” Senator Murkowski said. “I know how important the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program is in many Alaskan communities, both urban and rural – from Savoonga to Nikiski and in Juneau, Anchorage, and Fairbanks. The Afterschool for America’s Children Act will ensure that children continue to have access to a wide range of academic support outside of school hours, but it does so the right way, with effective guidelines and standards to keep the bar high so students get the most out of their afterschool programs and federal funds are spent responsibly.”

“I am proud to cosponsor this legislation that will help so many young people across America access safe and enriching afterschool programs,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Afterschool programs are a proven way to improve academic performance, and we know that students who attend them are more likely to go to college and start off their lives on the right track.”

The Afterschool for America’s Children Act would modernize the 21st CCLC program to improve states’ ability to effectively support quality afterschool programs, run more effective grant competitions and improve struggling programs. In addition, it would enhance communication between local schools and programs to ensure afterschool activities complement the academic curriculum while encouraging parental engagement in student learning and improving the tracking of student progress.

Supporters of the bill include the Afterschool Alliance, National Parent Teacher Association, American Heart Association, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, First Focus Campaign for Children, National 4-H Council and YMCA of the USA.

Editor's Note:  U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer's Office