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Policy Updates

House and Senate pass FY16 spending bill with record high funding for afterschool (Dec 18, 2015)

By: Erik Peterson 
Afterschool Alliance


Last night House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House leaders unveiled a FY16 omnibus spending bill that will fund the government through the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2016. There are several more steps before both houses of Congress send this budget to the President, but work is expected to be completed on the next ten days. A complementary tax extender bill was also unveiled early this morning and the two bills will be linked as they make their way through Congress.

The trillion-dollar government spending bill was made possible by the increased spending caps negotiated as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The omnibus includes funding increases for education, health and human services, child care, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and other key programs that directly contribute to the high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs millions of young people rely on.

The Department of Education was funded at $71.7 billion, an increase of $1.171 billion compared to FY15. Funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative was increased by $15 million for FY16, bringing the total to a record $1.167 billion, up from $1.152 billion in FY15.

When the omnibus spending bill passes, the increase means 15,000 more children and youth will have access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs. The bill also includes language that places restrictions on the current 21st CCLC waivers being issued by the Department of Education, ensuring that funds only be used for enrichment and for programs that will be open long enough to support working families and keep students safe.  The language reads:

…none of the funds made available by this Act shall be used to allow 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative funding for expanded learning time unless these activities provide enrichment and engaging academic activities for students at least 300 additional program hours before, during, or after the traditional school day and supplements but does not supplant school day requirements.

The House plans to vote on the bill, and companion legislation, on Thursday. The Senate will likely vote on it Thursday or Friday.

The spending bill also affects a number of other funding streams that support afterschool and summer learning programs:

  • Title I – It provides $14,909 billion for Title I funding, which is a $500 million increase. These funds help schools, particularly those with concentrations of economically disadvantaged students, meet high academic achievement standards. School-based afterschool and summer learning programs can be funded through Title I. Roughly 90 percent of the nation’s school districts receive Title I funding.
  • GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) –It funds Gear Up at approximately $323 million, which is an increase of about $22 million from FY2015.
  • TRIO Programs –It provides $900 million, an increase of $60 million, to help low-income and first-generation college students plan, prepare for, and succeed in college through the TRIO programs.
  • Full Service Community Schools – It includes $10 million for community schools, level with FY15 funding.
  • Investing in Innovation – This program is funded at $120 million, which is the same level as FY2015.
  • Community Development Block Grants – This program is funded at $3 billion, which is the same level as FY2015.
  • Promise Neighborhoods – This program was funded at $73.3 million, an increase of $16.5 million over FY2015.
  • Carol M. White Physical Education Program – This program, which provides funds for school and community physical activity programs, is funded at $47 million, which is the same level as FY2015.
  • Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) – The bill includes $2.76 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which provides grants to states for child care assistance to working families and to otherwise improve the quality of child care programs. This is a $326 million increase over FY15. These funds will support child care assistance, including school-age afterschool care.
  • Youth Mentoring Grants – These grants, available through the Dept. of Justice, are funded at $90 million, level with FY2015.
  • AmeriCorps State and National Grants – The bill funds these programs at $386 million, a $50 million increase from FY2015. AmeriCorps VISTA was level funded at $92.364 million.
  • STEM:  The bill provides $880 million for the National Science Foundation’s Education and Human Resources Directorate, about $14 million above the current spending level. Math and Science Partnerships received $152.72 million, which is the same level as FY2015.
  • Child Nutrition Programs – $22.1 billion in mandatory funding, including $23 million to continue summer food demonstration projects.

In addition, as part of the accompanying tax extender package, language is included that makes permanent the child care tax credit, which families can use to cover a portion of child care costs:

  • Enhanced child tax credit made permanent.  The child tax credit (CTC) is a $1,000 credit.  To the extent the CTC exceeds the taxpayer’s tax liability, the taxpayer is eligible for a refundable credit (the additional child tax credit) equal to 15 percent of earned income in excess of a threshold dollar amount (the “earned income” formula).  Until 2009, the threshold dollar amount was $10,000 indexed for inflation from 2001 (which would be roughly $14,000 in 2015).  Since 2009, however, this threshold amount has been set at an unindexed $3,000 and is scheduled to expire at the end of 2017, returning to the $10,000 (indexed for inflation) amount.  The provision permanently sets the threshold amount at an unindexed $3,000.

Back to school (and afterschool!) for students and Congress (August 28, 2015)

By Jillian Luchner
Afterschool Alliance

Students are returning to classrooms this fall to continue their studies, just as Congress plans to return on September 8th with its own need for continued learning. This fall Congress has big decisions on its plate about the future of the federal role in American schools and federal support for afterschool programs. They need to hear from you about how afterschool programs in your community are helping young people succeed in school and in life!

As students across the country get out their textbooks and begin their homework, use a few minutes of your own “homework time” to make sure you reach out to educate Congress on the essential need to keep afterschool programs authorized and funded to ensure high quality, safe, engaging places for students afterschool.

Students know their work outside of the classroom pays off and so will yours! Acting now by emailing Congress and spreading the word on social media will help preserve and strengthen the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative that provides afterschool programming for 1.6 million children. Taking two minutes to assist 1.6 million lives and the parents and communities around them will be sure to earn you a gold star.