afterschoolWhile more than 10 million children participate in after-school programs, there is still a need for programs for another 19.4 million children, according to a report released Thursday by Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit organization focused on ensuring that all children have access to affordable, quality after-school programs.

According to the report, the unmet need was especially strong among African-American and Hispanic families, who cited safety issues and cost as the two biggest factors preventing them from signing children up for an after-school program in their communities. The report was based on a survey of 30,000 U.S. parents.

Findings include:

  • Parents with children in after-school programs say that their kids have opportunities to be healthy and active;
  • Demand for the programs is especially high among low-income, African-American and Hispanic families — who were also more likely to report that their community lacked after-school programs;
  •  Sixty percent of African-American and 57 percent of Hispanic children would be enrolled in a program if it were available to them, compared to 35 percent of white children;
  • Low-income, African-American and Hispanic parents reported that cost and safety were major factors preventing them from enrolling children in after-school programs.

“Due to the fact that most students come from homes where both parents are working, we have a duty to provide safe havens for our children during the crucial hours from 3 to 6 p.m.,” said Arnold Schwarzenegger, founder of After-School All-Stars and the former governor of California. “After-school is a wise investment but, unfortunately, we’re not investing nearly enough.”