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Unmet Demand for Afterschool Programs Is High in Rural Communities

Friday, March 18, 2016  
Posted by: Nancy Levesque
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As many families living in rural communities struggle for economic security, the afterschool programs that can help their children succeed in school and in life are in short supply. A special report released, The Growing Importance of Afterschool in Rural Communities by the Afterschool Alliance finds that just 13 percent of rural students in the United States (1.2 million) participate in an afterschool program – up from 11 percent in 2009, but considerably below the 18 percent of students who participate in these programs nationwide.


Yet, according to a household survey commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance, for every rural child in an afterschool program, the parents of three more say their child would be enrolled, if an afterschool program were available. That puts unmet demand for afterschool programs in rural communities at 39 percent of those not currently enrolled (3.1 million children).


While the percentage of rural children in afterschool programs rose from 11 percent in 2009 to 13 percent in 2014, the percentage of rural families with a child enrolled in a summer learning program rose more dramatically, from 20 percent in 2008 to 28 percent in 2013. Yet 45 percent of rural parents reported wanting their child to take part in a summer learning program in 2014, but only 28 percent had a child enrolled in 2013 – suggesting significant unmet demand for summer programs.


The new report finds the unmet demand is especially high among Hispanic, African-American and low-income rural families. Findings are based on responses collected for America After 3PM from 30,000 U.S. households, including in-depth interviews with more than 13,000 parents and guardians. 



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