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California’s summer and after-school programs are effective and should be expanded, report finds

The state’s pandemic investments in TK-6th grade expanded learning programs have been so successful that the programs should expand to include more students and become permanent fixtures on school campuses, according to a new report by Partnership for Children and Youth.

The report, which analyzes the first year of California’s $4 billion Expanded Learning Opportunities Program, found that the state’s investments made it possible for far more students to benefit from summer and after-school enrichment programs, especially those from low-income families. Students benefitted academically as well as socially and emotionally.

To continue this success, the report recommends that schools start planning summer programs sooner and include district and community partners; survey students and parents to see what they like and what they don’t; use funds to create full-time positions with competitive salaries; and integrate the programs with academics and wellness initiatives happening in the regular school day.

In addition, the state should make the program permanent and expand it to include middle and high school students; adjust the funding so districts receive money based on their numbers of high-needs students; improve data collection; provide funding to help districts with planning; and advise districts on how, or whether, to charge fees.