Lack of Summer Learning Programs Put Children at Risk

Thursday, May 27, 2010


In just a few short weeks, schools will close for the summer. Many children look forward to family vacations, summer camp and trips to the beach. However, there are countless others that have to trade in the consistent and safe learning environment of school for weeks of boredom, little supervision and the loss of learning. 

A study done by America After 3PM, sponsored by the JCPenney Afterschool Fund, shows that only 36 percent of Rhode Island school children take part in summer learning programs that offer a safe, structured learning environment. Forty-four percent of Rhode Island kids, (an estimated 49,253 children) are not currently enrolled in a summer learning program. Based on the study, parents reported that they would likely participate if a program were available. Four in five Rhode Island parents (81 percent) support public funding for summer learning programs.  

"In Rhode Island, we're losing critical opportunities to educate and enrich our students during the summer," said Christine Gingerella, Director of Schools & Community Organized to Promote Excellence (SCOPE) at the Dr. Earl F. Calcutt Middle School in Central Falls and an Afterschool Ambassador for the Afterschool Alliance.  "All students should have the chance to participate in summer learning programs so they can explore their talents, maintain their academics and enrich their lives."

Leaving children unsupervised because their parents cannot afford a summer enrichment program, or the fact that the resources may not be available, is a big contributor to problems with educational achievement. However, the demand for summer learning programs far outweighs the supply.

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Summer school

Children who do not have access to any summer learning programs risk losing the academic and social progress they have made during the school year. 

In Rhode Island, 334 households were surveyed for this study. Thirty-one percent of the households surveyed qualified for free or reduced price lunch, 9 percent were Hispanic and 1 percent was African-American. 

The Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance, Jodi Grant, urged has urged lawmakers to fund 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which support after school and summer programs. 

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program supports the creation of community learning centers that help to provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, especially those who attend low-performing schools and/or who live in high-poverty areas. Read more about the Afterschool Alliance here


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