Public interest in and funding for youth activities during nonschool hours increased dramatically during the second half of the 1990s. Concerns about children’s performance on standardized tests, worries over supervision with increasing numbers of mothers working outside the home, and the sudden emergence of fiscal surpluses combined to create enthusiastic bipartisan support for after-school programs (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2000a).

There are a number of policy and system-level supports and barriers that affect the future direction, growth, and funding of community programs for youth. This section highlights these supports and barriers and makes recommendations for future policy, practice, and research. Funding is probably the most critical issue. But political support, public interest, and professional networks are also critical to sustain interest and promote the growth of these programs.

As has been emphasized throughout this report, community programs for youth provide opportunities to facilitate their well-being and promote successful transitions to adulthood. Chapter 9 reviews public and private support for these kinds of opportunities. Chapter 10 summarizes a series of conclusions about adolescent well-being and development, program design, and implementation and presents the committee’s recommendations in the areas of practice and policy and evaluation, research, and data collection.

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