While children spend nearly a quarter of their waking hours in school, policy leaders promote further learning opportunities through afterschool programs. Many of these programs are funded through grants and other resources from the federal, state, and local governments.
High-quality afterschool programs have proved their worth by improving educational outcomes, school attendance, and social and emotional learning. With funding, every program can become the type of high-quality program that shows the same improvements.
However, government grants and other funding resources have stringent reporting demands. Many afterschool programs struggle to comply with regulations related to fund-raising and spending using manual processes or limited on-premises software.
Web-based software simplifies and streamlines your program’s ability to maintain data and generate the reports needed to keep you in compliance with your block grant programs. Afterschool software can automatically generate the required reports, saving time and resources while supporting your mission.
The Afterschool Alliance cites a study highlighting the varying needs of the children in afterschool programs across the nation.
Quality programs understand that children in different age groups require different opportunities and offerings for their academic, psychological, and physical activities. Provided the right mix of academic, physical, and psychological engagement, the study shows that consistent participation results in an abundance of positive outcomes.
- Reduced dropout rates
- Reduced achievement gaps for low-income children
- Reduced risky behavior
- Improved skills required for college and career
To succeed in providing a high-quality afterschool program, students must receive regular afterschool educational opportunities. They must have access to adequately trained staff. And their afterschool care must provide high-quality programming.
Unfortunately, an Afterschool Alliance 2020 America After 3 PM report shows barriers to attendance. The most significant finding of the report showed continued demand for afterschool programming. However, for every child enrolled, three are placed on a waiting list. Twenty-five million children cannot access afterschool programs due to cost, accessibility, availability, and transportation issues.
At the state level, governments focus policy and funding on specific populations such as at-risk youth or in-demand programming like STEM. Many states collect information on the afterschool environment to inform future policy and funding opportunities.
Previous legislative attention for afterschool programming revolved around:
- Creating councils and task forces for research purposes
- Expanding the free and reduced lunch program
- Providing additional funds for afterschool programs
Recently, COVID-19 created conditions that suspended legislative sessions, limited access to state capitols, and led to an exploration of alternatives that managed to meet legislative constraints and challenges.
Now the primary concern is learning loss due to COVID-19 mandated school shutdowns and virtual learning. States are beginning to ramp up efforts to provide funding and alternatives that allow children who have fallen behind to catch up.
States use both state and federal funding to support afterschool programs and summer learning. Funding sources include the CARES Act and the CRRSA (Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations) Act. Both acts included substantial contributions to the Elementary and Secondary Education Relief (ESSER) Fund and the Governors Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund.
Afterschool and summer learning programs that wish to tap into the increased funding opportunities must collect data and develop reporting capabilities to compete and obtain access to these financial resources.
Federal Funding Concerns
Federal educational funding comes from three different types of programs.
- Entitlement programs
- Discretionary programs
- Block or formula programs
Entitlement programs serve any person meeting the eligibility criteria without competition. These programs are administered directly by federal agencies, or they can be administered through state agencies.
Discretionary programs provide federal funds for targeted types of programs. These funds are competitive and can be administered by various state agencies. Federal agencies may administer others.
Block or formula programs provide a fixed amount of federal funds to the states based on a formula that considers population, poverty rates, or other demographic information. Block or formula programs differ from entitlement programs in that not every person meeting the eligibility criteria is guaranteed funds.
However, federal funding has not kept up with inflation. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) programs have lost $10 million in inflation-adjusted terms since 2014. The burden of funding has shifted to states, communities, and families. Even though 87% of parents gave bipartisan support for public funding for afterschool programs, funding allocation has run into the roadblock of tighter state budgets. The pandemic hindered funding efforts even further.
Application and Compliance
Nearly 61% of afterschool programs report high levels of concern around permanent closure.
Obtaining grant funding for afterschool programs is a challenging and highly competitive process. Most programs will apply to multiple funding resources with differing application and reporting requirements.
The most common programs include CCLC, CCDF (Child Care Development Fund), TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
COVID-19 funds became available, also.
The Texas Education Agency sets out requirements for Federal fiscal reporting, IDEA fiscal compliance, indirect costs, and ESSA fiscal compliance.
With the need to comply with multiple sets of regulations, afterschool program administrators are forced to spend hours in administrative work to keep up.
Web-based software for grant-funded afterschool programs can save much of the time and effort.
The Benefits of Web-Based Solutions for Afterschool Program Management
Web-based afterschool program management software allows anyone who has authority to access the software using any device anytime from anywhere. You and your team don’t need to spend all those hours at your desks administering your program.
Beyond the convenience of using web-based solutions, you receive better security than an on-premise solution. Cloud computing companies understand their business rests on a tight web of security. They provide top-notch cybersecurity defenses to keep your data safe.
Cloud-based afterschool program management solutions make it easy to gather and maintain all the data required for compliance and reporting. Many generate standard reports that meet the requirements for Federal 21APR and GPR reporting as well as state-specific requirements.
EZReports includes more than 40 standard reports for state evaluators, program directors, and site coordinators to review and analyze data and then generate reports to request and maintain funding streams.
EZReports provides easy data export and report wizards to help you develop and format reports for any use. Once you have set a report format and the data requirements, the system automatically generates timed reports, plus you can pull ad hoc reports as needed.
Web-based afterschool sofware streamlines fund-raising and grant-writing activities, allowing you quick data access from a centralized database.
Information is entered into one program and shared with all, reducing error and streamlining funding documentation.
Cloud-based programs also keep your software up-to-date. The subscription price, which is lower than what you would pay to provide your own solution, includes automatic updates and security patches.
Simplify application, administration, and reporting for your grant-funded afterschool program with EZReports. Work from anywhere, anytime using any device. Put the saved time and resources to better use than paperwork.