After-School Programs Help Keep Kids Out of Trouble

State Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord) and Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston visited with students at Riverview Middle School today to see how their participation in the after-school program keeps them engaged in productive educational activities and away from crime.
“After-school programs are essential to the safety of our community. Keeping kids off of the streets and engaged in healthy learning activities in the hours after school helps keep them out of trouble,” stated Sheriff Livingston, an Executive Committee member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California, a national anti-crime organization of police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys and violence survivors, with 400 members in California. “After-school programs provide positive alternatives to gangs, drugs and violence.”
Research links after-school programs to reductions in crime, increased school-day attendance and improved graduation rates, according to California’s After-School Commitment: Keeping Kids On Track and Out of Trouble, a recent report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.
Riverview Middle School offers high-quality after-school programming for approximately 200 students every day. These students receive tutoring, nutritious snacks and enjoy enrichment activities including arts and sciences. As a Healthy Behaviors Initiative pilot site, Riverview Middle School works to improve the lives of children by encouraging students to make healthy lifestyles choices. Such activities include gardening, physical fitness and learning how to cook wholesome meals. Riverview Middle School relies on state after-school funding from the After School Education and Safety (ASES) program, which was substantially expanded by Proposition 49, enacted by the voters in 2002.  Across Contra Costa County, 67 schools receive a total of $10.9 million in state after-school funding to serve approximately 7,500 students.
Still, demand remains high for after-school programs. Statewide, in 2010, applicants sought more than twice as much state after-school funding as was available, with over 400 schools seeking $54 million in funding being turned away.  In Contra Costa County while over 60 percent of low-income elementary and middle schools have state and federally funded programs, 41 low-income schools still lack state or federal after-school funding.
The ASES program links schools and local community resources in order to provide academic and enrichment activities in a safe, well-supervised environment for students in kindergarten through ninth grade. Given its requirement of a 33% match in local contributions for every dollar of state funding received, ASES not only helps generate local funding, it also encourages an integrated partnership between the local community and schools.
“I am a former teacher and I have long been a proponent of quality after-school programs,” said Assemblywoman Bonilla. “I am currently the Chair of the Subcommittee on Education Finance. My subcommittee is charged with overseeing education spending in the state budget and needless to say, the last few months have been challenging as we work to clean up a damaged system left to us by the previous administration. We are asking our educators to do more with less so it is important that these after-school programs keep running successfully because they offer safe places for children, they can help build a sense of community and grow our local economy. After-school programs provide job opportunities as well as child care options to working parents. Our law enforcement leaders know that these programs have an immediate and long-term public safety benefit.  And in Sacramento I am working hard to invest in education and after school programs.”
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members support ongoing investment in the ASES program, which supports after-school programs at thousands of schools in high-need communities across the state; the funding for ASES cannot be reduced without another ballot initiative.