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After-School Programs Increase Public Safety

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The Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles School Police Department create safe learning spaces for the entire education community through LAPD’s Police Activities League and LASPD’s Youth Programs. These programs would not be possible without California’s After School Education and Safety Program (ASES), which offers educational, athletic, and other recreational activities that help connect police officers with the youth. This program funds after school enrichment activities for thousands of L.A. students.

One organization that ASES funds is the community-based L.A.’s BEST. By partnering with Lost Angeles Unified School District and the City of Los Angeles, this organization is able to provide homework assistance, recreation and activities, as well as safety and supervision after school. LA’s BEST serves 25,000 children in 193 L.A. Unified Schools. In total ASES programs serve more than 100,000 students in 236 elementary schools and 95 middle schools.

These programs give the children a safe and positive environment to play and interact in. They also allow for extra help with classes and offer tutoring and homework assistance. Beyond academics, these programs provide healthy meals and snacks and expose the children to activities they otherwise would miss out on, like art, robotics and yoga.

No only do these programs help children in their academics by providing them with extra support, it also offers tutoring, which helps close the achievement gap and boosts daily attendance rates. This then results in more students graduating from high school, attending college and become successful members of the workforce.

Finally, in addition to all these positive effects that after school programs have on children, they also reduce crime and delinquency. Giving children a safe place to play after school is one of the best crime-prevention tools that we have. In fact, violent juvenile crime tends to spike between 2pm and 6pm. During these hours adolescents are more likely to interact with gang members and experiment with drugs and alcohol.

Unfortunately, with the release of President Trump and Betsy DeVos’ education budget, at least $1.2 billion will be slashed from after school programs, which serves at least 1.6 million students nationwide. Many families rely on these after school programs to help their children and provide them a safe place for them to interact with others while parents are still at work. Failing to sustain these after school programs and others like them may lead to children spending time on their own or on criminal activities. Without these programs to provide them with academic help and a safe space, they are likely to fall in with dangerous crowds and poor situations.

In L.A., Senate Bill 78 will provide additional funding to the After School Education and Safety program in an attempt to curtail the effects of the loss of federal funding for after school programs, without which these programs cannot hope to survive.

After school programs need continued support and funding. They help keep kids engaged and learning during the critical after school hours where kids are most likely to find themselves in trouble. By keeping these programs in place, children will continue learning and growing in positive environments, increasing their likelihood of being successful students and resulting in safer communities.

References:

Beck, C., Zipperman, S. K. (May 25, 2017). After-school program funding is vital to public safety: Guest commentary. Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.dailynews.com/opinion/20170525/after-school-program-funding-is-vital-to-public-safety-guest-commentary

Sargrad, S. (May 23, 2017). An Attack on America’s Schools. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/opinion/knowledge-bank/articles/2017-05-23/donald-trump-and-betsy-devos-budget-would-destroy-public-schools

Turner, C., Dependbrock, J., Kamenetz, A. (May 27, 2017). Education Department Faces Deep Cuts; DeVos Faces Tough Questions. nprEd. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/05/27/529867484/education-department-faces-deep-cuts-devos-faces-tough-questions

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