SOURCE: New Jersey After 3

New Jersey After 3

February 23, 2011 16:32 ET

Proposed Budget 'Zeroes-Out' Support for New Jersey After 3 Statewide Network of Afterschool Progams

One of the State's Most Cost-Effective School Reform Solutions May Be Eliminated

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ--(Marketwire - February 23, 2011) - The State of New Jersey's FY12 budget proposal, submitted to the Legislature, eliminates all support to New Jersey After 3. New Jersey After 3 is a statewide, nonprofit organization that expands learning time in public schools each school day through evidence-based afterschool programs. The first statewide public/private partnership of its kind, New Jersey After 3 partners with community-based nonprofit organizations (e.g., Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs ) to serve thousands of children each school day. 

This proposed reduction delivers a devastating blow to some 5,000 children and their families who depend on these high-quality afterschool programs to:

  1. Improve student achievement by expanding learning time;
  2. Keep kids safe during the most dangerous time for children;
  3. Promote positive youth development and critical 21st Century skills;
  4. Support working families, allowing parents to work by providing supervised care.

A PROVEN STRATEGY: There is a wealth of research which supports expanded learning time as a proven method for helping students to do better in school, graduate on time, and stay out of trouble. More specifically, a 3-year independent evaluation has demonstrated New Jersey After 3's positive impact on student achievement and behavior, including language arts skills, study skills, and school engagement. 

Additionally, afterschool programs are an important workforce development strategy, which is especially important in times of high unemployment. A recent independent study of New Jersey After 3 documented that 90% of parents said the New Jersey After 3 programs helped them keep their jobs. Afterschool programs also help train the future workforce and provide students with an opportunity to learn critical skills like teamwork, leadership, applied math and communications skills. Today's 8th graders are tomorrow's workforce so an investment in their achievement is an investment in our State's future success. By building upon school day learning, New Jersey After 3 provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to graduate high school and thrive in the 21st Century workforce.

COST EFFECTIVE MODEL: With over 200 failing schools in New Jersey, New Jersey After 3 stands out as an exceptionally cost-effective school reform strategy. The State's investment in New Jersey After 3 during FY11 was $600 per child, yet New Jersey After 3 students gain 3 hours, or more than 40% more learning time over the traditional school day. With an exceptionally high average daily attendance of over 80%, New Jersey After 3 delivers its evidence-based afterschool programs for less than half the average cost of other high-quality programs, according to a large-scale national study.

In addition to achieving cost efficient programs, New Jersey After 3 leverages its State funding to secure private investments in afterschool.  Despite turbulent economic times, the State investment of $3 million in New Jersey After 3 was able to attract over $4.5 million in additional support this year -- delivering a 150% rate of return. However, without public support, New Jersey After 3 will not be able to sustain this rate of private investment.

In the long-term, New Jersey After 3's rate of return to New Jersey taxpayers will likely be much greater. The cost benefits of high-quality afterschool programs are well-documented. National studies have demonstrated that afterschool programs save taxpayers up to $12 in social service costs for every $1 invested. A U.S. Department of Justice study shows that for each high-risk youth steered clear of a life of crime through participation in afterschool programs, taxpayers save between $1.7 million and $2.3 million over the course of the child's lifetime. 

New Jersey After 3 is an innovative model for how State support can leverage additional resources to tackle critical problems. "We understand that the State needs to make steep cuts, but New Jersey After 3 is a cost effective school reform solution that utilizes State investment to leverage private and other public funding to maximize our impact," explained New Jersey After 3's President & CEO, Mark Valli. "Our public/private partnership is exactly the type of innovative strategy that the state should be looking to expand. New Jersey After 3 was able to deliver a 150% rate of return on the state's investment last year, and our programs have been evaluated and proven to be effective in promoting student achievement and workforce development. I don't know of many other programs that can deliver those kinds of results."

New Jersey voters have indicated that they see public funding for afterschool programs as a wise investment that delivers long- and short-term benefits. A recent Monmouth University Poll revealed that 90% of New Jersey residents feel it is important for all school-age children to have access to high-quality afterschool programs. A recent survey by the Afterschool Alliance documented that over 80% of New Jersey residents support public funding for afterschool.

Without intervention, the proposed elimination of these services will lead to serious immediate and long-term ramifications for communities across the state:

IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Without these programs, the safety and well-being of thousands of New Jersey students will be in serious jeopardy. More than 5,000 students in thirteen school districts across the State will be left unsupervised during the most dangerous time for kids, 3 pm to 6 pm, during which time juvenile crime rates triple and children are most likely to experiment with risky behavior. The effects of putting more kids on the streets at a time when urban districts are increasingly forced to cut social services and lay off public safety officers, have explosive potential to detrimentally impact community well-being.

Furthermore, the workforce in these communities will be hit hard. More than 500 afterschool educators will lose their jobs, and thousands of working parents will no longer have affordable afterschool options for their children. Finally, through the elimination of public support, millions of dollars in private investments in afterschool programs will be jeopardized, with trickle-down effects impacting public school and community nonprofit partners that are already facing precarious economic times. 

Last year, funding for New Jersey After 3 was restored through bipartisan compromise. Over the next couple of months, New Jersey After 3 will work with the Governor's Office and Legislature to restore its funding in a similar fashion, with support from thousands of students, parents, and citizens across the state.

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Contact Information

    Shannon Boehmer
    New Jersey After 3
    Email Contact