While the spring Army reports were all about happenings at the 86th Texas Legislature, that is not the only place Texas Women’s Foundation works to advance policies and programs for women and girls in Texas. We supported two very exciting wins in Dallas this spring focused on child care and health. This week we are talking about city support for afterschool care.
As our research has shown, child care is a key building block of economic security for women and families. The need for care does not stop when a child starts kindergarten; and in some ways becomes even more complicated. Families must cobble together care before school, after school and in the summer. This often includes multiple locations, summer camps that end in the middle of the work day and a need for mid-day transportation, all things that are often out of reach for a single working mom.
Since 2015, TXWF has been a major funder of After the Bell Alliance, a partnership of local community members, funders, and advocates who support expanded access to afterschool programs and envision a city where all students have access to enriching experiences outside of the traditional school day. Research shows that quality afterschool programs result in better student performance in school. Afterschool programs also provide child care for school-age children, allowing mothers to work and provide much needed evening and summer meals to alleviate food insecurity in lower income families.
After the Bell Alliance has worked with city leaders and agencies across Dallas to provide research on the shortage of afterschool programs in low-income neighborhoods. Truly local advocacy at work, After the Bell mobilized over 300 citizens to write, call, fill out surveys and attend committee and council meetings at City Hall to advocate for increased funding for afterschool and child care programming. TXWF Board of Directors wrote a letter of support to all city council members and the mayor. This call to action resulted in 42% of the public survey results and comments supporting additional HUD Block Grant funds for out-of-school time activities.
On June 12, the Dallas City Council approved a 50% increase in funds for Youth Services for the next five years funded by the consolidated plan for HUD funding. This past year, the funding served 2,900 children with structured recreational, cultural, social and life skill activities at 26 Parks and Recreation programs in Dallas. The increased funding will be split between Parks & Recreation programs and other non-profit agencies and should serve an additional 1,400 children at no cost to their families.
If your city council member was in office in June, please call and say THANK YOU! If you have one of our newest elected officials, call and let them know that you support quality free and low-cost afterschool programming at city sites as a way to reduce income disparities in our community.
In August, we are reporting on sex! Comprehensive sex education, that is.
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