The Missouri AfterSchool Network builds partnerships and systems across the state that improve, support, and sustain high-quality afterschool programs. Our vision is that “All school-age children and youth in Missouri have access to high quality, sustainable afterschool programs.” The field of afterschool includes before-school, after-school, and summer enrichment programs that provide a safe place for children and youth while offering a broad array of enrichment opportunities that help reinforce school day learning and expand the horizons of the students.
Currently there are approximately 130,000 children and youth being served by the 1100 known afterschool programs, but this is only a third of the overall need for services. A 2018 survey of school districts and community organizations revealed that just over half of the 500+ Missouri school districts have afterschool programs. The remaining communities do not have afterschool programs and children as young as 5 years old go home on busses to empty houses.
Access to programs is not the only issue…even in those communities with afterschool programs, affordability is a problem for many families. Many afterschool programs – particularly those that serve younger school-age children – are part of the child care system where low-income working families struggle to pay the high costs of care.
Quality afterschool programs are a proven way to close the opportunity gap which is directly related to the educational achievement gap. Afterschool and summer enrichment programs have a strong connection to the community and regularly bring in guest speakers and take field trips to expand student horizons.
MASN helps to support the afterschool programs by providing training, technical assistance, and resources, and to educate the public about the value of afterschool and need for more accessible and affordable options for children, youth, and families.