Opinion: Keep NYC after-school programs affordable, while still paying workers fair wages
Here’s why we must advocate for increased funding.
After-school programming in New York City is in high demand but short on supply. Beyond being a practical solution for working families, these programs deeply enrich young people’s lives, providing them with a space to learn new skills and explore new interests in areas such as music, theater, language, robotics, athletics, etc. This year, we must advocate not only for increased funding but also for better wages for the dedicated after-school providers who make quality, accessible programming possible.
After-school programs are an essential support for working parents, and they are also far more than that; they are a lifeline for families striving for a better future. Bridging the gap between the end of the school day and the time parents finish work ensures that children are in a safe, supervised environment and that families don’t have to choose between work and the well-being of their children. After-school programs offer a structured space where students can spend critical time with peers, engage in meaningful activities, receive academic support, and develop crucial social skills.
Behind the scenes of every successful after-school program are dedicated team staff and providers who work tirelessly to create a nurturing and educational environment for students. These unsung heroes in our communities are making a positive impact on students’ futures. Yet, they are not receiving a livable wage that reflects the skill, expertise, and heart they bring to the work or their impact on the lives of students, their families, and their communities. Moreover, inadequate wages prevent providers from retaining talent and expertise over the long term and make it impossible for after-school professionals to support a family-sustaining career while doing this work.