Parents, Students, Educators Meet in Harrisburg to Tell Legislators: Pennsylvania's Youth, Families Need More Afterschool Programs
HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network announced that an Afterschool Advocacy Rally will take place Tuesday, October 18 at 1:00 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg.
The event is bringing together hundreds of parents, program providers, youth and business leaders from across the Commonwealth to the state capitol to kick off the National Lights On Afterschool Week and to personally share with legislators the importance of quality afterschool programs. Stakeholders particularly want to emphasize that in Pennsylvania, afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire learning and help families; and that support to maintain these programs is critical even in difficult financial times.
Children benefit from afterschool programs in countless ways. In addition to having a safe, supervised place to go after the school day ends where they get academic help, youth can be exposed to a variety of activities – art, music, dance, sports, fitness, science, leadership experiences, service learning, career exploration, workforce preparation internships and much more – that help them develop new interests and skills.
"Kids' formative, afterschool hours can be filled with quality youth development programs that not only promote the well-being of our children and youth, but also families," said Kacy Conley, Director of the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network. "Increased academic achievement, reduced criminal activity, and positive social development are broad bipartisan goals and are also the results of high-quality afterschool activities. Quality afterschool programming is an effective strategy that can be used by policymakers to achieve these three goals," Conley added.
This year, afterschool programs were impacted by reductions in the state budget: in particular, the $38.8 million cut in Child Care Works funding; the elimination of the $46.7 million Education Assistance Program (EAP) tutoring program; the $158 million reduction of the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) funding; and the almost complete elimination of the $6.8 million TEACH Scholarship Funding.
State Senator Argall and Representative Wheatley will present Pennsylvania Senate and House Resolutions for Lights On Afterschool. Program innovators, business leaders, youth and the community will share testimonials and voice their support for afterschool programs. Adding to the festivities, a mural and other artwork created by participants in the Coatesville 21st Century Afterschool Program and Philadelphia Neighborhood Federation Afterschool Programs will be on display in the capitol rotunda.
Immediately following the rally, advocates will meet with legislators to let them know that even in challenging fiscal times, it is important to maintain current levels of state funding so that quality afterschool programs that promote positive development and the successful transition to adulthood are accessible to all Pennsylvania children and youth.
"Too many Pennsylvania children who need afterschool programs don't have them, and families are carrying a heavier burden as a result," Conley said. "For afterschool programs to meet the huge unmet demand from families, they're going to need more support from all sectors – from the business and philanthropic communities, as well as from the government at all levels."
The Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) promotes sustainable, high-quality out-of-school time youth development programs through advocacy and capacity building to enhance the welfare of Pennsylvania's children, youth and families. PSAYDN believes all children and youth deserve access to programs that encourage positive youth development and support the successful transition to adulthood. PSAYDN is managed by the Center for Schools and Communities. More information is available at www.psaydn.org.
CONTACT: Aylissa Kiely Tyndale
717-763-1661 x117 (o)
SOURCE Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network