Vermont Is a ‘Top 10 State for Afterschool,’ Even as Unmet Demand for Increases

Student participation that exceeds the national average and overwhelming parent satisfaction with afterschool programs make Vermont a “Top 10 State for Afterschool,” according to the America After 3PM household survey commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance and released today. Nevertheless, unmet demand for programs – the percentage of Vermont parents who say they would enroll their child in an afterschool program if one were available to them – is high, especially among low-income families, who report cost as a significant barrier.

Despite being in the Top 10, for every child in an afterschool program in Vermont today, one more is waiting to get in. All Vermont data from the new America After 3PM report can be found here.

America After 3PM is based on survey responses from more than 30,000 American households, including 244 in-depth interviews in Vermont. It was completed before the coronavirus pandemic struck. It finds that 22% of Vermont students, 19,092 children and youth in all, are enrolled in afterschool programs. But 26,148 Vermont students (39%) are still without the afterschool programs their parents say they need.

Vermont is doing better than most and that’s an important accomplishment that speaks to the state’s strong commitment to children and youth,” Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant said. “But much more work remains. America After 3PM 2020 paints a picture of unmet need, and that is a problem we must fix. Every parent should have access to an affordable, quality afterschool program that will keep their child safe, supervised and learning. Quality afterschool programs are essential to student success in school and life. If we want to emerge from this pandemic strong, we need to provide all our children and youth access to the important enrichment opportunities and resources afterschool programs provide. We’re not doing that now.”

The Top 10 States for Afterschool in the new study are the District of Columbia, California, Florida, Alaska Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, Vermont and South Carolina.

Cost and access top the list of roadblocks to afterschool program participation in Vermont. A significant percentage of parents in Vermont report challenges to enrolling their child in an afterschool program, with nearly 2 in 5 parents said that the cost of programs was an important factor in their decision not to enroll their child in a program. Low-income families are also struggling to access programs, with only 14% of children from low-income households participating in afterschool programs across the state.

“We are determined to continue the progress to make afterschool programs available to all children and youth here in Vermont,” said Holly Morehouse, Executive Director of Vermont Afterschool Inc. “America After 3PM 2020 finds incredibly strong support for afterschool programs among parents here in Vermont, with 85% saying they are satisfied with the program their child attends. Also encouraging is the overwhelming support for public funding of afterschool, with 86% of Vermont parents expressing their support. Students and families need afterschool programs now more than ever, since the pandemic has changed school schedules, disrupted our economy, and put many children and youth at risk. It’s essential that we address the unmet need for afterschool programs in this state now.”

To determine the state rankings, a composite score was calculated for all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, and indexed against the national average. Each state’s overall score is based on afterschool program participation, afterschool programs reaching children in need, and parents’ satisfaction with key features of their child’s afterschool program.

Findings from America After 3PM 2020 are based on a nationally representative survey of randomly selected adults who live in the United States and are the parent or guardian of a school-age child who lives in their household. A total of 31,055 households were surveyed in English or Spanish, and a subset of households (14,391 respondents) answered follow-up questions regarding afterschool experiences or barriers to participation in afterschool, as well as perceptions of afterschool programs. Data from interviews are weighted on race and income within states and by state population. The overall margin of error for child-level and household-level data is +/- < 1 percent. The survey included at least 200 interviews in every state and the District of Columbia. Data were collected between January 27 and March 17, 2020, by Edge Research. The October 2020 survey of parents was conducted by Edge Research and is a nationally representative online survey fielded October 12-29, 2020, of 1,202 parents of school-aged children.

America After 3PM 2020 is made possible with support from the New York Life Foundation, Overdeck Family Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Altria Group, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.