A West Des Moines-based organization that advocates for out-of-school learning opportunities for children is out with a report that points to the unmet need in Iowa. The group plans to deliver the report to legislators to make sure they’re aware.
The 40-page report from the Iowa Afterschool Alliance indicates 86 percent of schoolchildren in the state have no access to before-school, after-school or summer-learning programs. This translates to 136,000 students.
The network coordinator for the Alliance, Michelle Rich, says the absence of opportunities is especially apparent in rural areas.
“We estimate around 33 percent of children and youth would participate in an after-school program if they had access to programming in their community,” she says. “We know we’ve got huge pockets of need. We know kids don’t have access to these opportunities like they should.”
Rich says out-of-school learning has been shown to develop such workplace skills as teamwork and communication. The report also indicates they help increase test scores and reduce absenteeism.