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.

As we reflect on the changing populations of the District in recent decades and grapple with the questions of who our city belongs to, it is important to remember the earliest residents of our city--long before it was “our city”--many of whom were killed, forced off their land, enslaved, or died from imported disease.

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. 

Two dozen candidates are vying for one at-large seat on the DC Council this fall. Voters may cast two votes in this election. To help you decide which candidate will be the best advocate for the District’s children, youth and families, DC Action will hold Coffee with the Candidates on October 8 from 4:30pm-6pm via Zoom. 

Ballots are currently being mailed to every registered DC voter. Now is the time to make sure you know who is running for office and where they stand on critical issues that affect children, youth, and families. The election this November will be the most important one of our lifetimes. Locally and nationally we have the opportunity to shape the way our government views and protects children and families--the future and backbone of our society. Exercise your right to lift up your voice and claim your power by voting!

On Tuesday, the Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) announced that, beginning November 1, the agency will change the way it pays child care providers that participate in the District’s child care subsidy program. This change would revert from COVID-19 payments to the pre-pandemic payment model, one not designed to account for the unique costs and obstacles the pandemic presents.