"Today I am announcing the Boston 2:00-to-6:00 Initiative. Its mission will be to offer quality, affordable after-school activity in every neighborhood."
Mayor Thomas M. Menino, 1998 Inaugural Address
Mayor Thomas M. Menino launched the Boston 2:00-to-6:00 After-School Initiative in his 1998 inaugural address. The initiative’s mission is to support the expansion of high quality after-school programming across the city, providing new learning and development opportunities for children.
The City of Boston seeks to ensure that from the end of the school day until 6:00 p.m., children have access to high-quality, affordable, safe, and engaging after-school opportunities that enhance their learning and overall development. These after-school opportunities include academic support, recreation, arts, and cultural activities, as well as age-appropriate employment and training.
The growing momentum to expand out-of-school programs is driven by three converging policy challenges: the child care needs of working families; the necessity of providing positive alternatives to prevent youth crime and victimization; and the higher academic standards children are now expected to attain.
After-School Programs Support Families
In Boston, two-thirds of children ages 5-14 live in families with a single parent or two parents who work outside the home. More parents are joining the workforce as a result of welfare reform or other pressures to increase family income.
Although an estimated 16,000 children currently participate in after-school programming in Boston, at least another 18,000 would participate if an affordable, accessible, high quality program were available.
After-School Programs Enhance Youth Development
High quality after-school programming enhances children’s growth, including their emotional, social, moral and spiritual, cognitive, and physical development.
Without structured, supervised after-school activities, children are less likely to make responsible and constructive decisions and more likely to become victims of violent crime, use drugs and alcohol, experience mental depression, become sexually active, and engage in criminal behaviors.
One-third of all juvenile offenses in Boston occur on school days between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Children who attend high quality after-school programs develop stronger peer relations, have better emotional adjustment and conflict resolution skills, and better conduct in school compared to their peers who are not in programs.
After-School Programs Promote Academic Success
Children spend approximately 80% of their waking hours out of school. After-school programs provide an opportunity for children to be engaged in learning and enrichment activities that can contribute to their academic achievement.
The Challenge Ahead
The 2:00-to-6:00 After-School Initiative coordinates the City’s efforts to address the need for after-school programs. Among the initiative’s goals:
- Expand access and increase the number of children and youth served in high-quality programs after-school and during the summers;
- Open Boston public schools for after-school use and facilitate partnerships between after-school program providers and school staff;
- Leverage financial and other resources from public and private sources to increase the availability and the quality of programs; Equip after-school providers with skills, information, and materials so that they are able to support children's learning in creative and interesting ways;
- Support efforts aimed at increasing staff recruitment and retention, broadening opportunities for professional development and training, and improving overall workforce development for after-school staff.
- Assist programs in their efforts to measure the impact they have on children's learning and development;
- Facilitate collaborations across the city, including cultural, academic, and recreational organizations, to broaden programming options; and
- Promote public awareness about the importance of after-school programming.
© Article and accompanying photo Copyright 2003 City of Boston. All rights reserved.