MAYOR MENINO’S 2:00-TO-6:00 AFTER-SCHOOL INITIATIVE
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The Boston 2:00-to-6:00 Initiative was created by Mayor Menino to facilitate the development of a citywide system to support quality after-school programming. Historically, the City of Boston has played a large role in financing and delivering after-school programming for the City’s youth through a commitment of approximately $10 million per year in federal, state and city resources. Yet, the City’s investment alone is not enough to meet the needs of all Boston children and families. Boston 2:00-to-6:00 is convening leaders from schools, nonprofit groups, all levels of government, and the business community to coordinate their resources to achieve the ambitious goal of offering after-school programming to all Boston children in elementary through high school. As a facilitator, the work of Boston 2:00-to-6:00 is likely to change over time, but the Initiative has begun by focusing on:
1. Opening Boston Public School facilities for after-school use
2. Leveraging financial resources
3. Encouraging the adoption of high standards for program quality
2. When was the program created and why?
In his 1998 Inaugural Address, Mayor Menino announced the creation of the Boston 2:00-to-6:00 Initiative to respond to the growing need for after-school programming within the City. The following factors contribute to the timeliness and importance of Boston 2:00-to-6:00’s mission of expanding high quality after-school opportunities for children:
After School Programming is More Important Now Than Ever Before
In Boston, two-thirds of children ages five to fourteen live in families in which a single parent or both parents work outside the home. At the same time, many parents are moving into the workforce due to welfare reform or other pressures to supplement family income. Over the next two years, for example, 7,000 families receiving welfare in Boston will lose their benefits. For these and all families, affordable, accessible, safe, and productive after-school programming is critical. Yet, recent data show that only 17% of school children in Boston are enrolled in after-school programs, and, of these programs, fewer than half are licensed.
Raising Academic Expectations Requires Extra Support for Students
Recently the Boston Public Schools and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts introduced ambitious new standards for academic achievement of all students in kindergarten through grade twelve. Setting high expectations is only the first step to achieving excellence, and many students will need additional support to reach these goals. High quality after-school programming gives children and youth important opportunities to apply and expand upon skills learned in school.
The Consequences of Inaction Can be Grave
Recent studies show the positive effects high quality after-school programs have in encouraging children and youth to make responsible and constructive decisions. Without structured, supervised after-school activities, children are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, become sexually active, and engage in criminal behaviors. National data reveals that 29% of all juvenile offenses occur on school days between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Indeed, the hour immediately following the typical time of release from school—from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.—yields more than twice the amount of violent crime as the preceding hour of the day.
3. How do you measure the program’s effectiveness?
Evaluation of Program Outcomes: The Boston 2:00-to-6:00 Initiative is developing goals for program content, affordability, hours of service, coordinated use of public facilities and other aspects of program administration. The Initiative is also collecting data to develop a baseline of program activity and will measure progress in two major areas—the expansion and the quality of after-school opportunities within the City.
Evaluation of Individual Outcomes:Using information gathered in coordination with Boston Public Schools and through other means, Boston 2:00-to-6:00 plans to measure the effects of after-school programming on students’ academic achievement and healthy social development. For example, we will measure progress in these areas by tracking individual students’ academic, attendance, and disciplinary records.
4. How is the program financed?
The Boston 2:00-to-6:00 Initiative operates on the city budget, and the after-school programs supported by the Initiative use funding from a variety of federal, state, and local government sources as well as private foundations and parent fees.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?
As a facilitator for activities throughout the City, Boston 2:00-to-6:00 is not based in a single Boston neighborhood or community. We are incorporating the needs and interests of parents, youth and community members into the planning process through extensive survey work and collaboration with numerous non-profit community organizations.
The first Boston 2:00-to-6:00 survey will interview approximately 400 parents in the City of Boston. We will ask parents about the affordability and availability of quality after-school programming in their neighborhoods. We will also inquire about the types of programming parents want for their children, such as academic, arts, sports, drug prevention, and others. Because Boston does not have a system of neighborhood schools, it is also important to know whether parents would prefer to enroll their children in after-school programs at the schools they attend or in programs closer to home. This survey of parents will complement the recently completed survey of Boston youth on after-school activities.
In addition to survey work, Boston 2:00-to-6:00 collaborates with community-based non-profit groups to incorporate parent and community concerns into the planning process.
One of the most established of these groups is Parents United for Child Care (PUCC), an organization with hundreds of parent members throughout the City. The information gathered through PUCC’s parent surveys, the parent resource guide they publish with support of the Boston Public Schools, and their ongoing parent organizing campaigns have been invaluable to the Boston 2:00-to-6:00 effort to design polices suited to parent needs.
6. What are the major lessons learned from the program?
In anticipation of Boston’s new citywide effort to expand quality after-school programming, Parents United for Child Care conducted a review of after-school programming in cities across the nation. While there were dramatic differences between after-school programming in different cities, some general trends became apparent:
Cities with significant numbers of high quality after-school programs almost always have systematic approaches that encourage partnerships and collaboration between organizations.
Successful systems allow for a broad range of programming to meet the specific needs of individual communities. Designing a system that provides high-quality after-school programs in safe environments is complex and costly. Program quality is difficult to achieve and requires ongoing attention.
7. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.