D.C.-based Afterschool Allliance wondered: What are America's kids doing after the 3 p.m. school bell rings? Survey says: Only 15 percent of students nationwide are involved in some kind of afterschool program. That's a small number. And Dallas comes in below the national average:
Only 30,000 children in Dallas (14 percent) are enrolled in an afterschool program, while more than 58,000 children (27%) care for themselves after school during any given week. Dallas has significant room for improvement in its ability to provide after school care to more of its children and parents.
According to the Dallas piece of the puzzle, 221 households were surveyed -- and out of those, 40 percent qualified for free or reduced-price lunch, 11 percent were Hispanic, and 19 percent were African-American. The study, co-sponsored by JCPenney, cautions: This is but a sample and may not be "reflective of the overall population of Dallas city proper." Nevertheless, says the release accompanying the report:
"There's more work to do in Dallas in terms of afterschool participation before we can ensure that all the city's students are safe and supervised after the school day ends," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant in releasing the study. "Too many Dallas children are left alone in the afternoons, when they could be under the supervision of caring and well trained adults, getting help with homework, learning about everything from robotics to literature, expanding their horizons, getting exercise, and more. Dallas has the building blocks in place to make further, much needed, progress, but it needs to take the next steps."
"Dallas children who are in afterschool programs reap tremendous benefits, as do their families," agreed Janet Mockovciak, Board Chair of the Dallas AfterSchool Network. "But there aren't nearly enough high quality afterschool programs to meet the need, and as a result too many schoolchildren here are missing out on opportunities to help close the experience gap and shape their futures through tutoring, homework help, the arts and sports, mentoring and job preparation, and much more. This report is a call to action. If we care about our kids and our city, we will do better."
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