Tough Times, Tough Choices in After-School Funding

Pathways to Protecting Quality

by Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Sheila Nataraj Kirby, Joseph Cordes

Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.2 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Cities, sometimes with the help of private funders, have made investments to improve the quality of the after-school programs that they fund. However, the prolonged financial crisis faced by cities has greatly reduced city agency budgets, forcing agency leaders to make difficult choices between cutting student slots or reducing the quality of programming through cuts to professional development and technical assistance given to after-school providers. Drawing on interview data with agency leaders in three major cities, this paper explores how leaders make these decisions, the extent to which they protect quality investments, and the factors that influence their decisions. Authors identified a number of factors influencing these agencies' ability to maintain investments in quality, including agency authority over budget decisions, how city leaders weigh quantity and quality, strategic consideration of political and public interests, and the size of the budget shortfall. Lessons from interviews suggest that 1) private funds and associated public-private partnerships can shift the preference of city agencies 2) agency heads can make strategic budgetary decisions to help protect quality investments and 3) improving public understanding about the supports needed to achieve quality can help protect investments in quality.

The research described in this report was commissioned by the Wallace Foundation and conducted byRAND Education.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation working paper series. RAND working papers are intended to share researchers' latest findings and to solicit informal peer review. They have been approved for circulation by RAND but may not have been formally edited or peer reviewed.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.