Forum for Thought Blog
State Perspectives in Expanded Learning: The Role of Statewide Afterschool Networks
With demand for afterschool and summer programs reaching new heights, educators and policymakers are recognizing the benefit of a coordinated approach to expanded learning opportunities in which program providers, schools, intermediaries, nonprofits, faith based groups and other stakeholders work together to provide high quality programming. Over the last ten years, statewide afterschool networks have played a critical role in promoting such coordination and demonstrating how expanded learning can complement and reinforce school day lessons. Prior to the formation of the networks, hundreds of organizations involved in this space were disconnected from each other and frequently not linked to schools or broader youth development efforts. Currently, these networks operate in 41 states (and are emerging in the other states) and provide a range of coordinated supports in the form of research, resources, professional development and technical assistance to state and local level stakeholders. Afterschool Networks have developed valuable expertise in both policy and practice issues and are helping more kids succeed by working to ensure they have access to high-quality expanded learning opportunities.
This forum will provide an overview of how the Afterschool Networks support the work of afterschool providers and how they work alongside multiple stakeholders, including state agencies, community-based intermediaries and program providers. Terry Peterson, Director, After School National Resource Network, and Chairman of the Board, Afterschool Alliance, will share an overview of the work of the Afterschool Networks and discuss their role in supporting effective statewide policy and practice decisions in afterschool. Laveta Wills-Hale, Director of the Arkansas Out of School Network, and Michelle Doucette Cunningham, Executive Director of the Connecticut After School Network, will share their perspectives on the qualities of a highly functioning afterschool network, the supports the networks provide, and how federal policy can support or hinder such work.
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