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Challenges for Rural Out-of-School Programs Include Funding, Transportation

The improving economy hasn't made it any easier for rural out-of-school programs, which often face similar and substantial difficulties.

I've been looking into this issue for Education Week, and the resulting story was published this week in print and online.

Studies have shown that some of the biggest challenges facing rural areas are: high family poverty, low funding, lack of transportation, and a shortage of qualified workers. Four out of 10 out-of-school programs say their budgets are worse today than at the height of the recession in 2008, according to the Afterschool Alliance.

I interviewed some national after-school advocates, as well as directors of well-known programs across the country, and no one said they didn't struggle to maintain high-quality programs year after year.

Still, they offered suggestions on how to make those programs work, from big ideas such as statewide after-school networks, to smaller ones such as creating centralized student drop-off sites to minimize transportation costs.

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