With the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, New Mexico has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use federal funding to dramatically affect the lives of New Mexico families by increasing access to and affordability of afterschool and summer enrichment programs in community schools over the next two years. Research shows that afterschool and summer learning programs help close the opportunity gap for students from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. By 8th grade, low-income youth have 6000 fewer hours of enrichment and extracurricular activities than youth from higher income families.
The passage of the American Rescue Plan provides historic levels of funding for out-of-school time programming, with $30 billion set aside for afterschool and summer learning. While school closures in New Mexico have resulted in unfinished learning across disciplines, STEM learning has been particularly affected.
Recently, I attended a webinar entitled: “Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 through Summer Learning and Enrichment,” hosted by the national Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety. As we look towards summer, and plan for summer learning programs this year, there are 4 key takeaways from the expertise of the individuals presenting at this webinar that I would like to share.
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, failed to take safety precautions to protect children from sexual predators in their programs for decades. It is time to break the silence around child abuse. As the Executive Director of NMOST, I am choosing to step up to initiate this difficult conversation, and advocating for a safe place for children after 3 pm.
NMOST Director of Policy and Communication, Jeff McConaughy, discusses the need to build and maintain a self-care toolkit, filling your senses to keep mind and body connected, and asking for help when needed. And we all need help sometimes.
NMOST STEM VISTA, Ethan Greene, shares how his practice of self-care has shifted since COVID-19. He has found that living in the present moment, celebrating simple things in his day-to-day, and forgiving himself for not feeling 100% all the time are key.
The New Mexico Out-of-School Time Network (NMOST) brings together policymakers, educators, childcare providers, youth development workers, and other stakeholders interested in ensuring positive youth development opportunities and outcomes through out-of-school time programs.