Almost everyone believes that afterschool programs are one of those good things for youngsters. And yet many kids are left out: Only 15 percent -- 8.4 million -- of the country's school children participate, according to a report, "America After 3 PM," by the advocacy organization Afterschool Alliance. That leaves millions more students returning to empty houses, or worse. At a Feb. 21-22, 2013 conference in Baltimore, close to 400 people invited from 57 U.S. cities gathered to discuss what they could do to push for better afterschool programs -- and make sure that programming is available to all the kids who need it.
- Observation: Afterschool systems are partnerships between local government agencies, program providers, and funders, including private groups and governments.
- Observation: Most afterschool systems have a coordinating entity or "backbone organization," whose key responsibilities are improving the quality of programs and collecting and analyzing data to contribute to that.
- Observation: Systems improve program quality by developing standards and conducting assessments. To allay fears that low scores will be punished through funding cuts many systems take money off the table in this process.