In Support of Out of School Time Programming Legislation

Councilmember Nadeau made the following remarks at a Universal Out of School Time Amendment Act Introduction event organized by Councilmember Matthew Frumin.

Thank you to Councilmember Frumin for bringing forward this crucial bill, and a special thank you goes out to the Out-of-School Time Coalition and DC Action for their tireless efforts on behalf of our city’s youth. I also want to acknowledge all the advocates, providers, and stakeholders here today.

As a mother of two young girls, I know and value the importance of engaging and enriching activities for youth, and I am lucky to be able to provide those opportunities for them. As they grow, my husband and I will continue to make afterschool activities an integral part of their educational and life experiences.

I firmly believe that every family in the District should have the necessary resources to ensure their children can achieve their full potential. That is why in 2016, I introduced the legislation that created the current OST program. This legislation established the Office of Youth Outcomes, tasked with implementing a strategic plan for equitable funding of OST programming. My goal was to guarantee access to high-quality learning opportunities beyond the standard school day, preparing our children and youth for success in education, careers, and life.

Out-of-school time programs play a pivotal role in the overall development and well-being of our students. They are instrumental in fostering well-rounded development, providing academic support, building essential life skills, preventing risky behaviors, and creating a supportive environment for children and youth outside of regular school hours. As we know all too well, not all children have equal opportunities for this kind of engagement and enrichment.

OST programs can have an especially transformative impact on at-risk youth by addressing specific challenges, providing tailored support, and creating inclusive environments that promote positive development and success.

A report out just last week shows that a shocking number of students are not in school many days of the school year – that is, they are consistently truant. At many high schools, more than 60 percent of students are absent at least one out of 10 school days per year. It’s a complex challenge that our schools and political leaders must address. It’s clear that engaging students is a critical piece of that.

Out-of-School Time programs also play a critical role in enhancing public safety, by giving children and teenagers high quality, engaging activities in a safe and supervised environment during critical after-school hours. When children don’t have these kinds of activities, especially those who are at-risk, their changes of engaging in potentially harmful activities increases. As people talk about the uptick in juvenile crime, we must couple that concern with action, and this is one such action.

Unfortunately, significant barriers including cost, limited program availability, and access to information, hinder many students from accessing high-quality OST programs. And access to OST programming is not equal across the District. Black and brown youth, and low-income families have less access, are less satisfied with the options they have, and are less likely to be enrolled in OST programs.

This legislation addresses these challenges by increasing access to OST programs, expanding program capacity, and prioritizing space for at-risk youth who can benefit most from these programs. While there is still much work ahead of us, this legislation is a step in the right direction toward achieving our ultimate goal of ensuring that families have access to quality OST programs in convenient locations that meet their needs.

Today, we heard from advocates and experts about important new data gathered on OST programs in the District. Thank you all so much for your passion and commitment to the betterment of our city. I look forward to continuing the conversation and providing support moving forward, as we collectively strive to achieve equitable and universal access to Out-of-School time programs for District youth.


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