Last Friday, members of the DC Out-of-School-Time Coalition (OST) sat down face-to-face with members of the DC Council to talk about how to eliminate the financial, bureaucratic, and political barriers that stand in the way of District children and youth accessing excellent opportunities to learn, grow and play.
Out-of-school-time educators from Higher Achievement, Jubilee Housing, Kid Power DC, Midtown Youth Academy, DC SCORES, DC Strings Workshop, and Washington Urban Debate League explained how extreme new insurance requirements have hit their budgets hard and diverted money from programming. Security costs expected to go into effect next year would likely cause programs to shut down sites, leaving hundreds of children and youth without the activities they know and love.
Hopeful about the passage of the Educator Background Check Streamlining Amendment Act of 2022, providers noted for councilmembers that the extreme backlog of clearance applications from prospective volunteers and staff has hindered their ability to serve young people. In some cases, leaving students without teachers for classes or summer camps.
Finally, coalition members asked Council Members Charles Allen, Janeese Lewis George, and Robert White, and the legislative directors for Council Members Christina Henderson and Elissa Silverman to improve the transparency, accountability, and coordination of DC Public Schools, the Office of the State Superintendent, and the office of the Deputy Mayor for Education to ensure that OST programs receive the funding they need to effectively serve young people. OST providers asked councilmembers to urge Council Chairman Phil Mendelson to convene a public roundtable to address these issues.
Every councilmember or council staffer expressed appreciation for the important and necessary role that OST organizations play in the District. They pledged their support for the coalition’s efforts to resolve these problems in order to focus on the rewarding work of giving young people a safe, nurturing environment where they can learn new things and explore new futures.