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How Poverty in America Impacts OST Programming

Monday, 23 January 2023 09:06

January is National Poverty in America Awareness Month to recognize over 40 million Americans living with hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, disabilities, and restricted access to participation in the democratic process due to their socioeconomic status. While poverty is a complex social issue, out-of-school time professionals can have a significant impact on positive outcomes for youth living in poverty by providing programs that support the whole family.

Accessibility – Families living in poverty—both parents with and without children in an afterschool program— report challenges regarding the availability of afterschool programs in their area. Impoverished parents were more likely than their higher-income counterparts to report that lack of a safe way for their children to get to and home from afterschool programs, hours of operation, and inconvenient locations were important factors in their decision not to enroll their child in a program.

Affordability – For parents living in communities of concentrated poverty, the cost of afterschool programs weighs heavily both in their selection of a program and in the decision some make to not send their child to any program at all.

Afterschool programs have the ability to help address some of the inequities facing families living in communities of concentrated poverty by prioritizing inclusion and meeting the need for safe, nurturing places for youth to thrive with adequate staffing and infrastructure.