Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rural schoolchildren lack afterschool programs

A new study of how U.S. children spend their afternoons reveals one in 10 rural schoolchildren attend an afterschool program, a third less than the national 15 percent average. "According to the study, each community type has its own distinct barriers to access to afterschool services," the nonprofit group Afterschool Alliance writes in a news release. "While more than half of rural parents seeking programs struggle with availability of afterschool options, urban and suburban parents cite affordability as their major concern." Parents in all communities listed transportation as a barrier to afterschool program participation.

The study points to the barriers as factors in the key finding that one in four students in America is left unsupervised every day after the school bell rings. "This new data is alarming because it demonstrates that nearly 3 million rural children in this country are missing out on the educational, enriching activities that afterschool programs provide," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. "While there are not enough afterschool programs to meet the growing needs of every community, the problem is particularly acute in rural America. We need more dedicated funding to ensure that rural communities are equipped with the resources to offer quality afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families." The study was sponsored by JCPenney. (Read more)

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