While Wyoming Parents Give Afterschool Programs High Marks, New Household Survey Finds Huge Unmet Demand for Afterschool in the State

NEWS RELEASE CONTACT: Matt Freeman December 8, 2020 301/758-3279 

WASHINGTON, DC — Many more Wyoming parents want afterschool programs for their  children than are able to access them, according to a household survey commissioned by the  Afterschool Alliance and released today. It finds that, by overwhelming margins, parents express  strong, broad-based support for afterschool programs. But unmet demand – the percentage of  children in Wyoming not currently in an afterschool program whose parents say they would be  enrolled if an afterschool program were available to them – has increased over the past six years,  with low-income families in particular citing cost as a barrier to enrolling their children. As a  result, for every child in an afterschool program in Wyoming today, three more are waiting to get  in. 

America After 3PM 2020 is based on survey responses from more than 30,000 American  households, including 252 in-depth interviews in Wyoming. It was completed before the  coronavirus pandemic struck. It finds that 15% of Wyoming students, 14,719 children and youth  in all, are enrolled in afterschool programs, showing no progress since 2014, when the survey  was last conducted. In addition, 43,230 Wyoming students are without the afterschool programs  their parents say they need today

“Afterschool providers and advocates in Wyoming are doing remarkable work, but the state is  still not coming close to meeting the demand for these programs,” said Afterschool Alliance  Executive Director Jodi Grant. “Most parents in the state who want their child in a program can’t  find one. We need to fix that. Every parent should have access to an affordable, quality  afterschool program that will keep their child safe, supervised and learning. Quality afterschool  programs are essential to student success in school and life. If we want to emerge from this  pandemic strong, we need to provide all our children and youth access to the important  enrichment opportunities and resources afterschool programs provide.”  

“While we are incredibly pleased that parents express such strong support for the afterschool  programs their children attend, we recognize the urgent need to broaden opportunity and make  afterschool programs available to many more children and youth here in Wyoming,” said  Michelle Sullivan, Director of the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance. “America After 3PM 2020 finds that 91% of parents are satisfied with the afterschool program their child attends. We are  also encouraged that 80% of Wyoming parents express their support for public funding for  afterschool programs. That’s a strong foundation to build on. Students and families need  afterschool programs now more than ever, since the pandemic has changed school schedules, disrupted our economy, and put many children and youth at risk. We are calling on lawmakers,  businesses and others to recognize afterschool as an important part of our workforce  infrastructure and help us make afterschool programs more available to students and families  here in Wyoming right away.” 

In important respects, Wyoming results mirror the national survey findings, which include: 

  • Support for afterschool programs is strong. Parents give high marks to afterschool programs,  with 83% agreeing programs give working parents peace of mind, 81% agreeing programs  help parents keep their jobs, and 76% agreeing programs help children gain interest and skills  in STEM – all increases from 2014.  
  • Unmet demand for afterschool programs is soaring. Demand has grown 60% since 2004,  from 15.3 million children (30% of non-participants) waiting to get into a program in 2004 to  18.4 million children (38%) in 2009 to 19.4 million children (41%) in 2014 to 24.6 million  children (50%) in 2020.  
  • Cost and access are barriers to participation, and inequities persist. Sixty-one percent of low income parents report that cost is a barrier to enrolling their child in an afterschool program.  Access (lack of a safe way for their child to get to and come back from a program) is a  barrier for 58%. Both are significant increases from 2014.  
  • Just 7.8 million children are enrolled in an afterschool program today, down from a high of  10.2 million children in 2014. The inequities in terms of which students are accessing  programs are stark. The number of children from low-income households participating in  afterschool fell from 4.6 million in 2014 to 2.7 million in 2020, while the number of higher income children in afterschool fell by just under 450,000 over the same period. 
  • The number of elementary school students on their own after school rose slightly to more  than 850,000, an increase of almost 38,000 since 2014, while the number of unsupervised  middle and high school students dropped from 2014 to 2020. 
  • Eighty-seven percent of parents favor public funding for programs that provide afterschool  opportunities to students in communities that have few opportunities for children and youth.  Support crosses demographic and political divides, with 91% of parents who identify as  Democratic, 87% of those who identify as Independent, and 85% of parents who identify as  Republican in favor of public funding. 

“During the pandemic, in Wyoming and around the country, afterschool programs have been  stepping up to meet the growing needs of students and families, even as programs face higher  costs, dwindling budgets, and uncertain futures themselves,” Grant added. “Nationally, half of  afterschool programs that are serving students in person, and are located in school districts that  are operating virtually, have wait lists. We must do better. Publicly funded afterschool programs  have been a lifeline for low-income children. We need to bring more federal, state, local,  business and philanthropic support to meeting the needs of students and their families after  school.” 

The national and Wyoming America After 3PM 2020 reports, and accompanying data, are  available at www.afterschoolalliance.org.  

Findings from America After 3PM 2020 are based on a nationally representative survey of  randomly selected adults who live in the United States and are the parent or guardian of a school age child who lives in their household. A total of 31,055 households were surveyed in English or  Spanish, and a subset of households (14,391 respondents) answered follow-up questions  regarding afterschool experiences or barriers to participation in afterschool, as well as  perceptions of afterschool programs. Data from interviews are weighted on race and income  within states and by state population. The overall margin of error for child-level and household level data is +/- < 1 percent. The survey included at least 200 interviews in every state and the  District of Columbia. Data were collected between January 27 and March 17, 2020, by Edge  Research.  

The October 2020 survey of parents was conducted by Edge Research and is a nationally  representative online survey fielded October 12-29, 2020, of 1,202 parents of school-aged  children. 

America After 3PM 2020 is made possible with support from the New York Life Foundation,  Overdeck Family Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Altria Group, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. 

# # # # 

The Afterschool Alliance is a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure  that all children and youth have access to quality afterschool programs. More information is available at  www.afterschoolalliance.org.