In 2013, the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance (WYAA) became interested in understanding the school-to-prison pipeline based on the alarming statistics that we were seeing in Wyoming and across the nation about incarceration and detention. It was confounding and disturbing to see more and more children and youth entering the system, especially at younger ages. What was going on? And, more importantly — why?
When a young person experiences trauma, there is no single answer regarding how that experience may impact them in their later years. Two 12-year-olds experiencing the exact same kind of trauma, for example, may have two very different responses — one crumbles and the other rises. One processes it deeply and the other suppresses it. One becomes a powerful force for change in the community and the other struggles to make their place in the world.
In a replay of last year, President Donald Trump proposed scrapping the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, the federal funding for after-school and summer learning that reaches 1.7 million children.
Since local violence peaked in the 1990s, the Compton neighborhood has battled gang culture and worked to lower its high crime rates. For 30 years one after-school program has found success keeping kids off the streets by putting them on horses.
The Afterschool Alliance recently released a new study evaluating the financial security of afterschool programs, finding that more than 60 percent of respondents reported a downturn in funding over the last three years. Uncertain Times 2012: Afterschool Programs Still Struggling in Today’s Economy also finds that almost two out of every five programs reported having budgets that were “in worse shape” now than in 2008. Researchers say that funding issues are particularly severe for afterschool programs that predominantly serve Latino and African-American children, where almost 90 percent of children enrolled in such services also qualify for reduced-price lunch programs.
According to researchers, 68 percent of afterschool programs predominantly serving African-American children and 65 percent of programs serving predominantly Latino children reported reduced funding since 2009. Researchers report that roughly 70 percent of African-American majority programs state that their current budgets cannot sufficiently meet student and community needs, while 62 percent of Latino majority programs state that their budgets cannot fulfill the needs of children enrolled in such services. Additionally, 92 percent of predominantly Latino afterschool programs reported that children in the local community required afterschool care, but could not access it.
The MetLife Foundation grant continues its tradition of community involvement through its After-School and Mentoring Grant. This is to help increase opportunities for kids through after-school programs and mentoring kids through organizations that help enrich out-of-school activities for low-income middle school kids.