Dear Afterschool Stakeholders,
These are scary times. So many of the children, youth and families we serve are already dealing with fears and traumas. Now they will face more. For the first time in my lifetime, we are facing a pandemic and it will change life in America… for a few weeks, or a lot longer.
I won’t pretend to be an expert, but I can promise you that the Afterschool Alliance will do all we can to share the best and most recent news and resources with all of you.
And we want to hear from you about the real challenges you and your program face in addressing COVID-19. We know that you are the real experts who see up close how much kids and families depend on afterschool programs, not just for information, safety and support but also for homework help, meals, and in many cases access to information and services, including health care. So talk to us! Are there best practices you have adopted that we can share? Information you need help finding?
We will use all the influence we have in Washington, D.C. to voice your concerns and weigh in on legislation, regulations and policies created to address the virus. We will ensure that emergency funding and policies support afterschool programs as well as other institutions.
What is on our mind is YOU!
- We want to minimize the risk this virus poses for educators and our children and families.
- We fear that closing programs will lead to the loss of much needed resources for our students, including food and a safe place to be while parents are at work. We want to make sure those services are available if programs are forced to temporarily shut their doors.
- We know that families under pressure because their jobs have disappeared, their income is drying up, their health and their children’s health is at risk, will turn to you. We want to help you help them.
Now more than ever we should keep whatever normalcy we can, while being prudent. Follow guidelines from your local health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We have shifted the Afterschool for All Challenge, our annual meeting of afterschool advocates in Washington, D.C., to a virtual event to minimize risk. We are NOT cancelling because we won’t let the coronavirus mute our advocacy for our kids. This is still a vitally important chance to let Congress know how much afterschool matters. Our voices will make sure that instead of the White House’s proposed elimination of afterschool, we see an INCREASE in funding so our programs can serve more children and families in need. Since it is now a virtual challenge, you can join us. Go to the Take Action Center to let your members of Congress know about all the important things your afterschool program does for your community. In addition, you can use this opportunity to let your elected officials know how the virus is impacting your programs and the kids you serve. Let them know that now is the time for more resources, not less.
Please be safe, protect yourself and those you interact with, and be healthy. Most importantly, thank you, as always, for all the extraordinary things you do every day for our children and youth.