Murkowski Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Improve Afterschool Programs

Senator Co-Sponsors “Win-Win” Effort to Strengthen Education, Opportunity in Alaska

Senator Lisa Murkowski today introduced the Afterschool for America’s Children Act with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), which would help children and families by investing in high-quality afterschool programs across the country that complement students’ academic pursuits.

The bipartisan legislation would reauthorize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program, which has allowed millions of children to attend afterschool programs over the last decade, including more than 25,000 Alaskan children last year. Reauthorizing this program will ensure that children of working families continue to have a safe, enriching, and educational environment until the end of their parents’ work day. Three out of four Alaskan parents say that these programs help them to keep their jobs.

“This bill is a win-win for our children and for working parents. Studies have shown the effectiveness of high-quality afterschool programs not only in helping children improve their reading and math skills, finish their homework, and behave in class, but also in reducing the opportunities for kids to get involved in risky behaviors and crime,” Senator Murkowski said. “From Savoonga to Nikiski, Juneau, Anchorage, and Fairbanks, these programs are a success story for the next generation of Alaskans. This bill will help ensure our youth have access to safe and supportive environments outside of school hours, and it does so in the right way, with effective guidelines and standards.”

BACKGROUND: The number of children participating in afterschool programs and the unmet need for afterschool activities are both increasing. The 2014 reportAmerica After 3pm, found that nearly one in four families enroll their children in an afterschool program. But, while participation in afterschool programs is up, 1 in 5 children—including more than 800,000 elementary-age kids—still do not have someone to care for them after the school day ends. 

Reauthorizing this program, with improvements strongly supported by Alaska’s afterschool providers, will ensure that children will continue to have a safe environment where they can learn and play until the end of their parents’ work day. The program provides academic enrichment, tutoring, mentoring, team activities, arts and music education, and cultural activities linked to the community, particularly those attending high-poverty and low-performing schools. 

Senators Boxer and Murkowski introduced similar legislation in the 113th Congress.