Dec 19

Wrapping up 2017: A review of state policy highlights

It’s almost January. As many state legislatures prepare to begin new legislative sessions, it’s a good time to look at the 2017 state policy year in review. 

In afterschool policy, some states saw major developments in state funding. Illinois received appropriations for afterschool Teen REACH programs for the first time in many years, New York‘s Governor dedicated $35 million in new funding for afterschool across the state, and California received an increase in per-pupil funding for its state funded ASES programs. Texas instituted legislation to require school districts to report on the percentage of students in schools involved in afterschool and summer learning activities.  

Other funding efforts across states, with bills introduced but which did not make it into law before the end of session, included Minnesota ($5 million for competitive grants for positive youth development); Vermont (matching grants for out of school time programs); Maine (a summer success program) and Hawaii (for middle-school afterschool program funding). And in a tough year for state budgets, many states fought back against what would have been large cuts in state funding streams for programs.

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) legislation also made significant progress in 2017. Maryland designated more than $5 million for afterschool STEM and robotics clubs, and a Vermont bill (H. 270) to support afterschool and summer STEM had 38 bi-partisan co-sponsors in the House Education Committee.  

In addition to funding for programs directly, state made strides on issues ranging from community partners for workforce/career and technical education and higher education, to the Every Student Succeeds Act implementation and reporting. States tackled child care policy, nutrition and meals, tax incentives, juvenile justice, gang and bullying prevention, and more; in particular, South Carolina, Maryland, and Texas proposed legislation to develop Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Recognition Programs. If you’d like to learn more about any of these efforts, please email me. 

The National Summer Learning Association recently published a “State Policy Snapshot” highlighting policy efforts and successes in the summer learning space. As the report summarizes, 22 states passed summer learning legislation in 2017 and 19 more introduced legislation. Many of these pieces of legislation overlap with out-of-school time programs and opportunities. Examples in the brief include a Minnesota bill (SF 1937) passed into law which provides $1 million for construction career pathway opportunities, including summer internships, for youth under age 21, and an Illinois bill (SR 492) passed into law which encourages Summer Food Service Program sites to operate as open sites to the community so all children can access healthy, nutritious meals during the summer. 

Find your state’s session dates here. Connect with your Statewide Afterschool Network to learn about upcoming legislative priorities in your state, and check our Take Action page for federal priorities.  

And most importantly, accept our congratulations for all the great work you do every day to help children succeed and communities thrive! Your dedication to quality and care keeps people invested and grows the number of opportunities year after year. 

Have a happy and healthy New Year!