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By Jessica Woltjen, Outreach Manager

It’s been a big month for afterschool in Georgia! Let’s back up and have a quick recap for those of you who missed the news. December marked the release of the much anticipated quality standards for afterschool programs –– called the Georgia Afterschool & Youth Development (ASYD) Quality Standards –– and the official passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (formerly ESEA, now ESSA).

ASYD? ESSA? ESEA? I know, it’s a lot of acronyms and jargony sounding stuff. But have no fear of the policybabble, because I’ve taken the liberty of putting together a short list of the key things you need to know about both these historic successes!

Georgia ASYD Quality Standards

Why this is a big deal
  • Over 280,000 of Georgia’s school-aged children participate in an afterschool program, but those programs can look vastly different from provider to provider. The ASYD Quality Standards directly address this by building a shared understanding of what quality afterschool means.
  • Georgia joins 32 other states with quality standards for their afterschool programs. The release of these standards shows a commitment by the state to provide Georgia’s youth with enriching experiences after the last school bell rings.
  • Most importantly, the quality standards will ultimately help afterschool programs ensure our youth are on track to succeed in school, work and life.
What you need to know
  • The Georgia ASYD Quality Standards are a framework providers can use to evaluate and improve their programs, and they are organized in nine categories called quality elements.
  • The standards can help providers figure out what they are doing really well, and where they could improve.
  • The goal is for ALL afterschool programs in Georgia to use the ASYD Quality Standards to help ensure Georgia’s youth are receiving enriching, high-quality out-of-school time experiences.
  • To access the standards and additional resources, visit georgiaasyd.org.

The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Why this is a big deal
  • By all accounts, The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is one of the most sweeping pieces of education legislation ever passed
  • The bill was originally signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 as part of his “War on Poverty,” and, following it’s last reauthorization in 2001, was redubbed “No Child Left Behind” by President George W. Bush.
  • ESEA has been up for reauthorization for 8 years, but until now Congress could not find a consensus on changes to the bill
What You Need to Know
  • ESSA includes several important funding streams for afterschool and summer learning; most importantly, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program.
  • The 21st CCLC program is the only federal funding dedicated exclusively to afterschool programs, and it serves more than 26,000 of Georgia’s youth. Some of the original drafts of the bill removed this funding, but because we have awesome advocates (go you), the most recent version included the funding.
  • Congress passed ESSA with strong bipartisan support and was signed by the President on Dec. 10.
What Next?
  • One of the most important things you can do to support afterschool is to thank your elected officials for their support. Our action alert makes it easy.
  • Learn more about the impact the new law will have on afterschool by heading over to the Afterschool Alliance’s blog.
  • Learn more about 21st CCLC by checking out our 21st CCLC video or fact sheet.