Out-of-school care for children is an important issue for many Federal employees. Nearly two-thirds of school-age children and youth live with a single employed parent or two parents who are both employed. Children who are not supervised by adults during their out-of-school time are at significantly greater risk of truancy from school, stress, earning poor grades, risk-taking behavior, and substance abuse. Those who spend more hours on their own and begin self-care at younger ages are at increased risk of poor outcomes. Children who participate in high quality out-of-school programs have better peer relations, emotional adjustment, conflict resolution skills, grades, and conduct in school than their peers who are not in programs.
These facts are all reasons for Federal agencies to help employees who are looking for quality care for their children. Federal work/life programs can assist employees in making good decisions about care by sponsoring information fairs, compiling resource lists, and providing guidelines for out-of-school programs and latch-key kids. Agencies should also provide information about the full array of family-friendly flexibilities, including family leave policies, flexible scheduling options, and telework, that can help employees as they struggle to juggle the needs of their children with their work responsibilities.
It is estimated that between 5 and 15 million children are home alone each day.
Children and youth that lack adult supervision are at significantly greater risk of truancy, stress, school failure, risk-taking behavior, and substance abuse.
The problem of access to care is most acute for the growing number of children and youth in low-income families with one or two working parents. Between 1989 and 1996, the number of children and youth in working-poor families increased from 4.3 million to 5.7 million.
In 1993 only a third of schools in low-income neighborhoods offered before and after school programs.
A Mott poll of 1,000 registered voters in September, 1999, named after school programs as of the top three most important school issues. Blank, H. (1999, September). Notes on the issue: out-of-school time for children and youth. Presented at a meeting of the Alliance of Work/Life Professionals and the Metropolitan Washington Work/Life Coalition, Bethesda, MD.
A three-year study of four after-school programs that were offered free of charge to children living in targeted high-crime neighborhoods was released in 1999. The study determined that children in these programs had fewer school absences, better conflict management strategies, and better work habits at school than did their school classmates who lived in the same neighborhoods but did not attend the programs. In addition, children who attended the programs for more days demonstrated larger beneficial effects than did children who attended fewer days. Children who participated more frequently had better work habits, better interpersonal skills, engaged in less misconduct in their neighborhoods and at school, and missed less school. Vandell, D.L. & Pierce, K.M. (2000, January 28). Recent study with positive outcomes for children participating in after-school programs. Children's Defense Fund Child Care Advocacy Newsletter (electronic version).
On school days, the peak hours for juvenile crime are from 3:00 to 6:00 PM. These are also the hours when kids are most likely to become victims of crime.
Failing to provide quality youth development programs can multiply by as much as four times a family's risk that at-risk kids will become delinquent.
A recent study by Professor Mark A. Cohen of Vanderbilt University estimates that for each high-risk youth prevented from adopting a life of crime, the country would save $1.7 million. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. (1999, January 29). From America's front line against crime: a school and youth violence prevention plan.
Most reports suggest that somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of school-age children spend some time alone after school on a regular basis; and maybe 20 to 30 percent on a periodic basis.
Younger latchkey children, particularly in urban settings, have been reported in some literature to be more anxious, fearful, prone to spend too much time watching television, and some cases, have lower academic achievement than peers participating in after school programs or with parents at home after school.
Older latchkey children have been found to be susceptible to the influence of problematic peers, and thus to experimentation with drugs and sexual activity, and the influence of gangs. Halpern, R., Spielberger, J., & Robb, S. (1998, December). Making the most of out-of-school time [Executive summary].
Many more parents are seeking after-school programs now than ever before. The Washington Post recently reported that large numbers of parents in D.C. were requesting transfers to schools with after-school programs as a way of addressing the problem. Federal welfare legislation passed last summer will increase the demand even further as women on welfare with school-age children enter work programs.
While the new law stipulates that women with children under age six cannot be required to work if appropriate child care is not accessible, mothers of children over six will not be exempted when child care is not available before and after school and on holidays. This may force large numbers of school-age children into inadequate care, or leave them to fend for themselves. Seligson, M. (1999, May 3). School-age child care comes of age.
Expanding out-of-school programs will cost money. However, research suggests that the available of such programs may be critical to several welfare reform objects:
Stable child care - a critical component to parents' retention rate in employment;
Safe and supportive environment - an important component to well-being of younger children; and
Supervision, support, and services - contributive to high school graduation rates and reductions in teen pregnancies.
Kaplan, A. & Sachs, H. (1999, August). Financing school-age out-of-school time programs with welfare related funding. [On-line]. Welfare Information Network Issue Notes. Retrieved December 17, 1999 from the World Wide Web:
Back to Top
Child Care Now!Children's Defense Fund25 E Street, NWWashington, DC 20001202-662-3671Email: CDFchildcare@childrensdefense.org
Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC)Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education (EECE)University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChildren's Research Center51 Gerty DriveChampaign, IL 61820-74691-800-583-4135Email: email@example.com
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids1334 G Street, NW, Suite BWashington, DC 20005-3107202-638-0690Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Finance Project1000 Vermont Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20005202-628-4200
National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)525 SW 5th Street, Suite ADes Moines, IA 50309-4501515-282-8192Email: email@example.com
National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST)Center for Research on WomenWellesley College, 106 Central StreetWellesley, MA 02481781-283-2547Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
National School Age Child Care Alliance (NSACA)1137 Washington StreetBoston, MA 02124617-298-5012Email: email@example.com
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Cooperative Extension ServiceNational Network for Child Care (NNCC)
Articles, Reports, and Fact Sheets
Alberta Teachers' Association. (1998). Latch-Key Children. (Parent Pamphlet). Retrieved on May 15, 2000 from the World Wide Web.
Ashland, Oregon Fire & Rescue. Latch-Key Kids: A Concern for the Fire Department. Retrieved on May 15, 2000 from the World Wide Web.
Cheektowaga Police Department & The National Crime Prevention Council. Latchkey Children: Young Children at Home Alone. Retrieved on May 15, 2000.
Child Care Partnership Project. MOST: The Child Care Partnership Project. Retrieved on December 17, 1999 from the World Wide Web.
Children's Defense Fund. (1997, November 21). Parents' checklist: Choosing an after-school program. Retrieved on Marcy 27, 2000 from the World Wide Web.
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. (1999, Fall). When School Is Out. [Executive Summary]. The Future of Children, Volume 9, Number 2. Retrieved on December 7, 1999 from the World Wide Web.
Earley, S. (2000, May 1). What I Did On Summer Vacation: How your kids answer that essay question may depend on what summer cap or care programs you've booked. It's late to make plans but these expert tips will help you catch up. Retrieved on June 27, 2000 from the World Wide Web.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. After-School Crime or After-School Programs: Tuning In to the Prime Time for Violent Juvenile Crime and Implications for National Policy. Retrieved on December 7, 1999 from the World Wide Web.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. (1998, February). Quality Child Care and After-School Programs: Powerful Weapons Against Crime. Retrieved on December 7, 1999 from the World Wide Web.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. (1998, October). School and Youth Violence Prevention Plan. Retrieved on December 7, 1999 from the World Wide Web.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. (1998, December). Smoking Reduction Impact of Early Childhood and After-School Programs Fact Sheet. Retrieved on December 7, 1999 from the World Wide Web.
Grossman, C. L. (2000, February 24). Staying After School: Linda Rix pioneered programs to nurture working parents' children before and after class. Retrieved on June 27, 2000 from the World Wide Web.
Halpern, R., Speilberger, J., & Robb, S. (1998, December). Making the Most of Out-of-School Time. Retrieved on December 17, 1999 from the World Wide Web.
Kaplan, A. & Sachs, H. (1999, August). Financing School-Age Out-Of-School Time Programs with Welfare Related Funding. Welfare Information Network Issue Notes, Vol. 3, No. 6. Retrieved on December 17, 1999 from the World Wide Web.
Langford, B. H. (1999, September). Creating Dedicated Local Revenue Sources for Out-of-School Time Initiatives. [Strategy Brief]. The Finance Project, Volume 1, Number 1.
Laramie County Sheriff's Department. Safety Tips for Latch Key Children. Retrieved on May 15, 1000 from the World Wide Web.
The National Institute on Out-of-School Time (2000, January). Fact Sheet on School-Age Children's out-of-School Time. Retrieved on June 26, 2000 from the World Wide Web.
Ryan, R. (2000, April 24). First You Write the Job Description: Summer is coming. How do you hire a caregiver that is going to be going for your child and your job? Retrieved on May 5, 2000 from the World Wide Web.
SACC Project. (1998). Fact Sheet on School-Age Children. Paper Order No. S5, available from the Center for Research on Women, Wellesley College, for $1.00.
School's Out Consortium. (1996, February). Growing Up with Someplace to Go: Providing Care for School-Age Children. Seattle MOST. Retrieved on December 17, 1999 from the World Wide Web.
Seligson, M. (1999, May 3). School-Age Child Care Comes of Age. Retrieved on December 17, 1999 from the World Wide Web.
Seligson, M. & Stahl, P. J. (2000, February 25). Building Relational Practices in Out-of-School Environments. Retrieved on April 13, 2000 from the World Wide Web.
U.S. Department of Education. (1993). National Study of Before- and After-School Programs. Office of Policy and Planning.
U.S. Department of Education & U.S. Department of Justice. (1998, June). Safe and Smart: Making After-School Hours Work for Kids. Retrieved on December 20, 2000 from the World Wide Web.
Women's Bureau. (1995). Care Around the Clock: Developing Child Care Resources Before Nine and After Five. U.S. Department of Labor.
Some of these books are available through major retail and on-line book stores. Information on ordering others is given. Contact the Office of Work/Life Programs if you have difficulty in obtaining them. Bender, J., Glatter, C. H. & Sorrentino, J. (September 2000). Half a Childhood: quality Programs for Out-of-School Hours. School Age Notes. ISBN: 0917505107. Click, P. (1997). Caring for School-Age Children. Delmar Publishing. Child care guide covering physical, cognitive, and psychosocial development in early and middle childhood with information on how to operate an effective program. ISBN: 0827376928. Corporation for National Service & National Institute on Out-of-School Time. (1997, October). Service as a Strategy in Out-of-School Time: A How-to Manual. Fink, D. B. (1988). School-Age Children With Special Needs: What Do They Do When School Is Out? School Age Child Care Project. ISBN: 0930958055. Seligson, M. & Fink, D. (1989). No Time To Waste: An Action Agenda for School-Age Child Care, School Age Child Care Project. Addresses the problem of the lack of adequate care for school-age children during their out-of-school time and options for developmentally appropriate, high quality care. Available from The National Institute on Out-of-School Time at 781-283-2510. Seligson, M. & Allenson, M. (1993). School-Age Child Care: An Action Manual for the 90s and Beyond, Second Edition, Auburn House. Focuses on the modern aspects of planning and managing center-based care for school-aged youth. Available from The National Institute on Out-of-School Time at 781-283-2510. Polls, Power Point Presentation, and Resource Guide Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. (1999, September). Crime-Prevention Impact of Investments in Children and Youth. Retrieved from the World Wide Web. Mastrofski, S. D. & Ketter, S. (1999, November). Poll of Police Chiefs. Retrieved December 7, 1999 from the World Wide Web. Opinion Research Corporation International for Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. (1999, August). Back-to-School Poll Shows Public Sees Head Start, Child Care and After-School Programs as Key to Violence Reduction. Retrieved December 7, 1999 from the World Wide Web. Wheeler, K. A., A Resource Guide for School-Age Child Care (1998). Paper Order No. S4, available from Center for Research on Women, Wellesley College, for $10.00.
Office of the Vice President. (1999, September 13). Vice President Gore Announces Initiative to Support Safe, High-Quality Afterschool Programs to Aid Working Families. Retrieved on December 16, 1999 from the World Wide Web. Office of the Vice President. (1999, September 17). Vice President Al Gore Announces New Information Finding Juvenile Violent crime and Victimization Highest During Afterschool Hours. Retrieved on December 16, 1999 from the World Wide Web. Ohio Professionals for School-Age Care. 7th Annual National Older Kids Conference. Retrieved on May 15, 1000 from the World Wide Web.
Making the MOST of Out-of-School Time: The Human Side of Quality. (1998). MOST Initiative, Video No. M3, available from the Center for Research on Women, Wellesley College, for $10.00. 11 minutes.
These websites offer extensive information for Work/Life Coordinators and federal employees who are concerned about out-of-school care for children.
Under Federal Law, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is prohibited from ranking, endorsing, or promoting agencies or organizations listed on its website.