Report: Unmet demand for after-school programs in Nebraska is at all-time high

By: - April 18, 2022 5:40 pm
school hallway lockers

Lockers line a high school hallway. (Getty Images)

Unmet demand for after-school programs in Nebraska has reached an all-time high, according to a new national report from Afterschool Alliance, which counted more than 60,000 kids in the state left unsupervised after school.

Edge Research conducted the survey for the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Alliance. It reflected responses in 2020 of more than 31,000 U.S. parents of school-age children, including 395 households in Nebraska.

Among the findings was that Nebraska’s unmet demand for after-school programs has grown in the last decade. For every child in an after-school program, four more children reportedly are waiting to get in.

The Alliance said 63% of the Nebraska parents surveyed reported that out-of-school programming helped their child learn responsible decision-making and that 91% believed that the activities their children engaged in helped build positive relationships with adults and mentors.

Alone and unsupervised

Jeff Cole, of the Nebraska-wide Beyond School Bells network, said out-of-school programs in the state have stepped up during the last couple of years to meet challenges created by remote learning. Such programs have provided youths with counseling, take-home activities and other support.

“But we need to do even more to ensure that all students in Nebraska have access to these programs,” Cole said in a news release. “Right now, the unmet demand is great.”

The Alliance report said about 141,000 more Nebraska children would be enrolled in an out-of-school learning activities program if one were available to them. Barriers include cost and accessibility, said Alliance advocates.

‘Strong support’ for funding

The group cited “strong support” for public funding to expand after-school programs in Nebraska.

Nationally, the Alliance report said, the number of children in an after-school program fell from 10.2 million in 2014 to 7.8 million in 2020, while unmet demand for after-school programs has grown 60% since 2004.

The report said that in 2020, 24.6 million children across the country were not in an after-school program but would be enrolled if one were available to them. 

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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.