Afterschool Programs in America: Origins, Growth, Popularity, and Politics

Joseph L. Mahoney, Maria E. Parente, Edward F. Zigler


The historical and recent growth of afterschool program (ASPs) in the U.S. is discussed in this article. Particular attention is given to the recent history of social and political influences that have led to growth and current popularity of ASPs. The article begins by reviewing changes in schooling and the labor force that created a supervision gap between the school day of children and work day of parents. This gap contributed to the need for afterschool child care. Next, influences leading to a growing recognition of the significance of school-age childcare for working families and their children, including research on the potential risks of self care and benefits of well-designed ASPs, are described. These discussions are contextualized alongside decades of social and political action and debate over the development of and funding for ASPs in America. Several key factors likely to affect after-school programming in the near future are discussed.

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