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The inaugural year of Under 3 DC is one I will never forget! I started 2020 excited about my plan to move to the District and lead DC Action for Children’s signature campaign to fund and implement the Birth-to-Three for All DC law. Instead, I began my work remotely from out-of-state during a public health crisis, building a hard-charging, dedicated team and charging ahead at what felt like 100 miles per hour to protect and preserve essential health and education services for families with young children. 

DC Action for Children was pleased to formalize the new DC OST Coalition earlier this Fall, and is now introducing a new blog series. It will highlight out-of-school-time programs, by creating space to share the stories of voices that have been left out of the discussion about how to support virtual learning and provide for safe and healthy in-person learning for those who need access to it. 

DC Action is seeking a talented DIGITAL ORGANIZER who can use social media and tech tools to drive transformative organizing campaigns for education, health, economic and racial justice.

DC Action for Children and DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) recently merged to form an even stronger, independent voice for children and youth. We provide data analysis, policy solutions, and collective advocacy on critical issues facing our young people. We envision a District of Columbia where all kids, regardless of their race, family’s income, or zip code, have the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

We are also the home of DC Kids Count, a data resource that tracks key indicators of child and youth well-being; Under 3 DC, a city-wide coalition advocating for families with infants and toddlers; and now home to the newly formalized DC Out-of-School Time Coalition, which is broad and diverse serving thousands of students across the District.

Even in 2020, Black and brown residents in the District earn less money and do not have equal access to quality medical care, child care, and education. Women-led household income consistently lags behind couple-led households and even single-male led households. Black youth are over-policed and at higher risk for suicide than white youth. These statistics are undeniable affirmations of the failure of “color-blind” policies, which instead cement a legacy of systemic racism. We believe this data must be used as a starting point for innovative and equitable solutions that will transform our city.

Representatives from DC Action and the DC Out-of-School Time Coalition met with  DME Paul Kihn on November 9 to discuss how to better engage out-of-school-time leaders in supporting students even when schools are closed. Following is our letter to Deputy Mayor Kihn illustrating the value of OST programs and outlining our hopes for future collaboration.

Our partners at the Afterschool Alliance informed us of a grant opportunity for out of school programs available in just 10 states this fall, including the District of Columbia, focused on programs that are providing meals through the USDA child nutrition programs to students and/or families.

The OST community is broad and diverse, serving and supporting students across the District and employing educators who work tirelessly to ensure that all of our young people succeed. According to FY2019 numbers, 21st Century Community Learning Centers in the District served 9,078 young people -- 5,087 through DCPS. In FY2020, Learn 24 awarded 103 grants to programs that served 7,338 young people during the school year and 9,107 during the summer. Yet, voices of OST leaders who serve thousands of students daily have not been represented, or even consulted, in how and when schools should reopen.

As State Superintendent for Education Hanseul Kang has transitioned from OSSE, DC Action for Children would like to express gratitude for her leadership and partnership over the nearly six years of her tenure. This moment offers a vital opportunity to find in Kang’s successor an expert in education policy who is well-equipped to lead the District’s education system through this unprecedented moment and the years of recovery that will follow it.

Last week DC Action Executive Director Kimberly Perry moderated a discussion among DC Council candidates Marcus Goodwin, Christina Henderson, Ed Lazere, and Councilmember Robert White to find out where they stand on pressing issues that affect the District's children, youth, and families. In case you missed it, you can watch the video here.