Policy update: What this week means for afterschool funding

Erik Peterson, Afterschool Alliance | September 8, 2017

After being out of Washington for the month of August, the House and Senate returned this week with a full agenda including advancing the fiscal year 2018 (FY18) spending process. Both the Senate Appropriations Committee and the House of Representatives took actions this week that could impact federal support for afterschool and summer learning programs. Moreover, a Continuing Resolution passed extending current federal funding to December 8.

Senate appropriations

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee passed their FY18 spending bill on September 6, followed by the full Senate Appropriations Committee on September 7. The Senate’s LHHS spending bill funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers at the FY 17 level of $1.192 billion, rejecting the president’s proposed elimination of the program. For the second year in a row, the Senate appropriations subcommittee produced a bipartisan bill that provides leverage in negotiations with the House of Representatives. Read the Afterschool Alliance’s statement on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s strong support for afterschool and summer learning programs.

The Senate education spending bill included a number of important supports for local afterschool and summer learning programs, including the following:

Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) – $2.9 billion, level with FY 17. This level falls short of the amount of funding that would allow child care providers to meet the requirements under the reauthorized 2014 law.

Title I Grants to LEAs – $15.5 billion, a $25 million increase. Title I provides basic and flexible funding to low-income school districts, which allows states, local school districts, and schools to decide how to best use limited resources to improve student outcomes. School districts can use these funds to support afterschool and summer programs.

Title II Supporting Effective Instruction state grants – $2.1 billion, the same as the current level, rejecting the president’s proposal to eliminate this support for evidence-based professional development and other activities that increase student achievement.

Title IV Part A Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants – $450 million, a $50 million increase from FY17 for this flexible formula block grant to help support activities to provide students with a well-rounded education (including afterschool STEM education), ensure safe and supportive learning environments, and use technology to improve instruction.

Full Service Community Schools – not funded in the Senate bill. The House bill funded FSCS at last year’s level of $10 million.

Corporation for National and Community Service – $1.02 billion, a decrease of $11 million. While this represents a large reduction ($11 million less than 2017), the funding does include at least five level- funded programs including $386 million for AmeriCorps grants, $30 million for NCCC, $92 million for VISTA, $202 million for Senior Corps programs, and $16.5 million for State Commission grants.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) —$108 million, level with FY 17.

House of Representatives

In the House of Representatives, nearly 1,000 amendments were up for consideration for the compilation spending bill the full House is debating this week. The spending bill combines several funding measures, including the Labor HHS Education Appropriations bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee last July.

Well over 100 amendments to the compilation-spending bill, known as the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, HR 3354, will be debated on the House floor, including one offered by Reps. DeLauro (D-Conn.), Lowey (D-N.Y.), Carson (D-Ind.), Cicilline (D-R.I.), and Kildee (D-Mich.) to increase 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding in the House appropriations bill to $1.1 billion.

The vote on the amendment was originally expected the night of September 7 but will now likely take place on September 12 or 13. More than 3,800 emails and calls were made to Congress this week in support of Community Learning Centers. Friends of afterschool can learn more about supporting the amendment here.

What’s next?

The House is expected to pass the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act next week.

In addition, the House and Senate passed a package to continue funding the government at FY2017 funding levels and raised the debt ceiling until December 8, and provided much-needed emergency aid to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. This package was the result of a surprise mid-week deal between President Trump and congressional leaders. The president is expected to sign the bill as early as this evening. The agreement ends the threat of a government shutdown and a default on the national debt at the end of September, but just for three months.

Even with this amount of activity on FY 18 spending bills in the Senate and the House, there would have remained some major hurdles toward a complete FY 18 spending package. Foremost among these challenges is that, without the passage of a budget deal this year, the amount of overall government spending allocated in the Senate and House bills varies widely. It would be hard for the two chambers to negotiate an agreement without agreeing on top-line numbers first. The adoption of the continuing resolution allows negotiations between the House and Senate appropriators and leadership to continue through the fall months, leading to a final showdown or spending deal by December.

While it now appears the outcome for FY2018 federal afterschool funding will not be known for several months, the outreach to Congress has clearly made a difference as both the House and Senate have resoundingly rejected the Trump Administration’s proposal to eliminate Community Learning Centers. Thank you to all who have reached out to Congress and stay tuned for a busy fall!

“Quality afterschool and summer learning programs are vital to communities across the nation,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant in releasing the organizational letter. “The idea that the federal government would abandon the students and families that rely on afterschool is unthinkable. President Trump’s misguided proposal to eliminate 21st Century Community Learning Centers has triggered a tidal wave of opposition that’s reflected by the diverse and powerful voices that are calling on Congress to continue—or increase—federal funding for afterschool. This funding directly supports afterschool programs for 1.6 million children across the country.”

National signatories of the letter include youth-serving organizations, education groups, and organizations focused on hunger, fitness, gender equity, health, the arts, and law enforcement, among others. The list was signed by the American Federation of Teachers, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, FBI National Academies, Girl Scouts of the USA, National Association of State Boards of Education, National School Boards Association, National Education Association, National League of Cities, National PTA, National Rural Education Association, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, STEM Education Coalition, United Way Worldwide, and YMCA of the USA.

The list of state and local organizational signatories is similarly broad, with signers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The letter is addressed to the chairs and ranking members of key appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate.

The organizations wrote, “In every state and almost every Congressional district, 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding supports afterschool and summer learning programs that offer locally based school and community solutions that keep children and teenagers safe, inspire young people to learn and support working families.”

Inside the Dear Colleague letter

In the Dear Colleague letter to appropriators in the House, the 81 signing representatives called for at least level funding of 21st Century Community Learning Centers, citing a meta-analysis of 75 separate studies which showed that afterschool students demonstrated improved behavior and performed better academically than students who did not participate in afterschool.

The letter also mentioned the impact programs have on the workforce: “More and more working families rely on 21st Century Community Learning Centers each year to ensure their children are in a safe environment during non-school hours, allowing them to excel in their jobs.”

In the face of a dire threat from the White House, this outpouring of support is encouraging to the afterschool field.

“It’s clear from these two letters that policymakers, educators, parents and a wide variety of organizations, including those focused on health, law enforcement, science education, arts and more, recognize the tremendous value afterschool programs provide,” said Grant. “The president’s proposal to eliminate Community Learning Centers doesn’t have any more traction around the country than it does here in Washington. It is up to Congress to make sure the federal budget reflects this clearly expressed demand for continued, even increased, federal support for afterschool.”

Last year, a similar congressional letter was signed by 40 members. This year’s 81 signatures show a doubling of congressional support for Community Learning Centers, which Trump’s February budget outline put on the chopping block.

What’s next?

Members of Congress (find yours here) are on recess and back in their home states and districts. It’s a great time to contact them about the importance of before-school, afterschool, and summer programming to you and you community.

There are lots of ways to get in touch with your representatives and show your support: send your representatives a letter or an email, post on social media, make a phone call, pay a visit to their local office, talk to them at town hall meetings or press events, or invite them to come and see your local program at work. You can also write to your local newspaper or TV station, since lawmakers will be sure to catch up on the local news while at home.

With big budget decisions on the horizon, the voices your representatives hear now and their frequency, diversity, and strength are more critical than ever before. The letters and calls in support of afterschool are streaming in and the strategy is working to influence policymakers. Add your voice and personal story to the chorus. 2017 is an important year for the children, families, and communities who need affordable quality afterschool!


This blog post was originally published on Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool Snack blog. To view the original, click here.