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Survey Finds Uncertainty About Future of After-School Programs in California

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A new survey finds nearly a third of after-school programs in California could be forced to close their doors if state funding doesn't increase.

The Partnership for Children & Youth released the survey results this week. The nonprofit works to improve the quality and access of community schools and expanded-learning programs throughout California.

Of the 676 survey respondents, 29 percent of those getting state funds said they're likely to shut down in the next two years if the state doesn't provide them with more money to operate.

California awards grants of $112,500 to elementary schools under the state's After-School Education and Safety (ASES) program with a required 33 percent local match. ASES programs also receive a flat, daily rate of $7.50 per student.

"Nearly all of our state-funded programs are being negatively impacted by the current funding formula," said Jessica Gunderson, the partnership's policy director.

The daily rate under that formula has been the same for nearly a decade, but costs have continued to rise.

Higher Costs

"The cost of doing business has gone up about 19 percent, and the cost of minimum wage has gone up 30 percent," said Gunderson.

California's minimum wage increased to $10 an hour this year and is set to rise to $15 an hour by 2022.

"Eighty percent of the schools that we're at are about 80 percent free and reduced lunch," said Gunderson. "We can't pass on our costs to the customer the same way a private business could, so we're hitting a ceiling."

More than 90 percent of those surveyed said they had been negatively impacted by the ASES funding formula, and 64 percent said they've had to cut staff hours.

Funding Request

Gunderson says the providers they serve would like to see the state raise the daily reimbursement rate to $8.50 per student, a 13 percent increase.

A bill was filed in the California State Assembly in February to raise that rate to $8.50 per student. It would also add a statutory cost-of-living adjustment to help funding for these programs keep up with rising expenses. So far, the bill has passed one committee, but it has a ways to go before becoming law.

Gunderson says the bill's proposed rate increase still won't cover providers' costs, and finding other sources of funding has become more difficult.

"They've always raised private dollars," Gunderson said of the providers she works with.  "They're very resourceful. It's just come to a point where they're pretty much maxed out in their ability to get enough private resources to maintain these programs."


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