In order to inform youth practitioners and policymakers about the various sources of funding for after-school activities, AYPF coordinated a panel discussion with Sharon Deich, Program Manager for the DeWitt Wallace-funded Finance Project, Doris Garrett of the Illinois Bureau of Community and Youth Programs, and Keith Watson with the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation. The national, state, and municipal perspectives provided by these three presenters, illuminate various successful strategies in the quest to rationalize after-school program funding.
Research has shown that children are more often the victims of crime during after-school hours and that most crimes committed by juveniles take place between 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. After-school programs improve the academic skills for young people at the same time that they reduce crimes committed by and against youth. With the parents of over twenty-eight million young people in the workforce full-time, after school programs also provide an effective system of community supports and services for youth and their families during a time when parents are often away from the home.
Sharon Deich, a Program Manager for The Finance Project, gave an overview of state strategies to support such after-school programs with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), the block grant created by the 1996 welfare reform legislation. TANF monies can now be transferred into a state’s Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), and states like Georgia have already allocated as much as fifty percent of their CCDF monies to support after-school programs. Because of the current economic boom, caseloads of state welfare agencies have decreased, leaving many states with a TANF surplus. This surplus and the flexibility for transference of TANF funds to CCDF has, according to Deich, “created a window of opportunity to fund out-of-school efforts.”
In 1998, states transferred $652 million in TANF funds to CCDF, but these funds could only be used to provide services for children up to age 13 who fall within CCDF eligibility. Even with these limits, Deich observed that savvy state administrators have used TANF and CCDF to expand support and expedite services for poor residents. With TANF funds, for instance, Wisconsin established childcare subsidies for all families with income up to double the poverty line and greatly reduced waiting lists for such subsidies.
In addition to these suggestions for state policymakers, Deich also proposed several strategies for youth program directors to increase their chances of receiving TANF funds. First, program directors should familiarize themselves with state TANF plans and get to know TANF administrators. Inviting people to visit programs is a concrete way of connecting administrators to initiatives that they may fund. Second, programs alone may not have the clout to sway TANF administrators, but if they join coalitions and associations they can pool resources to gain a stronger voice in changing finance regulations. For more information on TANF, Deich points to several web pages (www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/ofs/data, www.welfareinfo.org, andwww.nccic.org) and to The Finance Project publication, “Using TANF to Finance Out-of-School Time and Community School Initiatives.”
Following Deich’s discussion of the various state strategies used to finance after-school programs, Doris Garrett, from the Illinois Bureau of Community and Youth Programs described her state’s strategy in more detail. Illinois allocates grants through its Teen REACH (Responsibility, Education, Achievement, Caring, and Hope) program. Begun in 1998, Teen REACH now supplies $18.5 million for after-school programs that serve more than 19,000 young people. To be eligible for the grant, programs serving youth ages 6-17 must have parent involvement, academic enrichment, recreation, positive adult mentoring, and life skills education. After meeting these basic requirements, programs also compete in a highly selective grant review process. When asked about the outcomes of the programs, Garrett admitted that this data has been hard to collect, but with the rigor of the selection process, she feels that Teen REACH enables community organizations “to create a comprehensive approach to serving kids.”
Closer to home, Keith Watson, with the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, discussed a similar use of public and private funds to support out-of-school youth initiatives in Washington. The Trust Corporation represents the DC Children and Youth Investment Partnership, a citywide organization of community leaders, parents and children founded in 1998 to reform the ways youth programs are designed, financed, accessed, and held accountable. After conducting a comprehensive youth needs assessment for the District, the Trust Corporation received a $15 million funding commitment from the DC government to award grants for youth programs in the city. With these grants, the Trust Corporation hopes to improve the scale, scope, and sustainability of youth service organizations and most importantly, to provide programs with funds and an accountability system to ensure success.
While the presenters offered varying perspectives from the national, state, and local levels, they all agreed that this is an opportune time to reexamine funding streams for out-of-school and after-school youth programs. They suggest that state officials should investigate the possibilities of garnering TANF money for youth initiatives, and local program directors should learn more about state agencies that distribute such funds, so that they can stabilize funding streams.
This information is from an American Youth Policy Forum held on February 18, 2000 on Capitol Hill, reported by Steve Estes.
1000 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Bureau of Community and Youth Programs
535 W. Jefferson St., 3rd Floor
Springfield, Illinois 62702-5058
1301 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Suite 305
Washington, DC 20004