New Report Compares Afterschool Program Access in Rural, Urban Communities

Last Updated: October 17, 2010

The Afterschool Alliance, in conjunction with JC Penney Afterschool, has released new survey data on afterschool program participation, satisfaction, and demand in rural, urban, and suburban communities.

America After 3PM: From Big Cities to Small Towns is a special report based on a study of nearly 30,000 households. Conducted for the Afterschool Alliance and sponsored by JC Penney Afterschool, the report answers the questions:

  • What are the greatest barriers to afterschool access in rural communities, compared with urban and suburban areas?
  • Are there differences in afterschool program attendance and demand in different types of communities?
  • How many children in rural communities are at home alone after school compared with their counterparts in urban and suburban areas?
Among the key findings:

Participation in self-care is affected little by geography. More than a quarter (26 percent) of America’s rural, urban and suburban schoolchildren are on their own after the school day ends, and before parents get home from work.

Children in urban areas are benefitting from afterschool programs at the highest rate. But there are not enough programs to keep pace with the need in any geographical setting.

  • More than 3.3 million kids in urban areas (18 percent) participate in afterschool programs, compared to 3.9 million kids in suburban areas (13 percent) and 1.2 million kids in rural areas (11 percent).
  • Parents of six million urban children (46 percent), 8.3 million suburban children (33 percent) and 4.1 million rural children (39 percent) who are not currently participating in afterschool programs say they would enroll their children if a program were available to them.

Participation in summer programs is appreciably higher among urban children when compared to rural and suburban children, and while demand for summer programs is high among all populations, urban parents show slightly more interest in getting their child involved in summer programs.

The rural-urban difference in afterschool participation is greater among low-income populations, though demand and concerns with cost are high among all low-income families.

As might be expected, rural, urban and suburban children participate in different types of afterschool programs and report different reasons for selecting their afterschool programs.

  • Urban participants were more likely to choose an afterschool program based on whether it provided music, art and culture, while rural participants were more likely to choose an afterschool program because it was the only program available to them.

Americans see afterschool programs as an answer, regardless of geographical differences. The vast majority of parents of children in afterschool programs are satisfied with the programs their children attend, and public support for afterschool programs is unusually strong across urban, suburban and rural populations.

The full report is available as a PDF here:

The press release summarizing the findings can be found here:

Website with more information:

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