Last week, Senator Sal DiDomenico successfully secured $10 Million for COVID-19 Preparedness and Stabilization Grants to provide much needed support to Massachusetts afterschool and out-of-school time programs. These grants will provide funding to form community partnerships, workforce training and health and safety expenses necessary to adequately prepare for the 2020-2021 school year amidst COVID-19.
DiDomenico’s amendment was included in An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth, which was passed by the Massachusetts Senate. This legislation will provide for programs related to economic development and job creation throughout the Commonwealth, with a special consideration for the diverse needs related to the 2019 novel coronavirus. DiDomenico focused in on several specific community priorities in addition to educational equity related to after and out-of-school programming.
“In a workforce where one-third of individuals rely on childcare to successfully work, it’s a no-brainer that organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs and many of our local afterschool programs are integral to the smooth functioning of our society. These organizations’ capacity to allow parents more flexibility in fulltime work schedules, all the while ensuring their children are safely cared for outside supervised school hours, is extremely important to maintain. I was proud to secure this funding that will allow our community afterschool partners to effectively prepare their facilities and staff for the fall, and I am so grateful for all that they do for our Commonwealth’s children and families,” said DiDimenico.
In consideration of upcoming budget constraints, school districts throughout the Commonwealth have been forced to reallocate funding for afterschool programming, making the system particularly vulnerable in light of increased costs related to COVID preparedness. Already, afterschool and out-of-school community partners face cumulative challenges from expenses related to additional cleaning requirements, PPE, protocols (like reduced group sizes), and consequent need for increased staffing that are necessary for the safe maintenance of these programs during coronavirus.
“I want to thank Senator DiDomenico for his leadership and support during a critical time for afterschool programs across the Commonwealth,” said Ardith Wieworka, CEO Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership. “Afterschool Programs, big and small, have helped support communities through the COVID-19 crisis. School reopening is imminent, and with these new resources, afterschool programs can meet the challenge and continue to provide much needed support to districts, students, and families over the coming months.”
“We are truly grateful to Senator DiDomenico and the Massachusetts State Senate for championing afterschool and out-of-school time programs like the Boys & Girls Clubs. Now more than ever, state support like this is critical to ensure that we can continue supporting the kids and families in the communities we serve,” said Jennifer Aldworth, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs.
“The YMCAs are thankful to have a champion and partner in Senator Sal DiDomenico who understands the importance of directing critical state funding towards out of school time programs,” said Peter Doliber, CEO of the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs. “As we enter into an unprecedented fall, YMCAs are striving to serve all children equitably and this funding will help us towards that goal. This funding will provide much needed support for staffing and cleaning which will allow us to serve more children and families.”
Specifically, these resources will serve to ensure the over 700,000 youth enrolled in public schools throughout the Commonwealth will have an equitable opportunity for safe afterschool and out-of-school care, in the midst of an otherwise unpredictable schoolyear. In efforts to alleviate challenges faced by organizations that provide these programs, the grants offered through this funding seek to assist in supporting increased costs related to:
• PPE and cleaning
• Additional supplies due to the need for single/solitary usage
• Programming to address academic achievement loss caused by long distance/remote/uncertain learning environment
• Services for low wage-earning communities
• Services including, but not limited to, the provision of meals and transportation
The differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill will now be reconciled before heading to the Governor’s desk for his signature.