The summer months present youth with opportunities for academic, physical, and social and emotional growth but also the possibility of stagnation or decline. Understanding the complete landscape of summertime experiences and youths’ participation in them is necessary in order to help children and adolescents fully realize positive outcomes and minimize risks during this significant period of the calendar year. In this chapter, we provide an overview of the nature and types of summertime experiences by reviewing and categorizing them according to the agents we identified as key providers—including government agencies, for-profit companies, and nonprofit organizations—offering information on participation when available, with specific attention to equity across groups of children and youth.
The charge to the committee was to examine the availability and accessibility of summer experiences for children and youth for the four outcome domains (academic learning and enrichment; social and emotional development; physical and mental health; and safety, risk taking, and anti- and pro-social behaviors) identified in the statement of task, which they discuss as outcomes of system dynamics and interactions. In undertaking this task, the committee found that summer-specific literature does not provide a comprehensive inventory of the myriad experiences children and youth have during the summer. To compensate for this, we make use of American Time Use Survey (ATUS) data and other longitudinal studies to identify broad categories of common summertime experiences, and then discuss the summertime offerings and actions most commonly offered according to provider. Organizing the experiences by provider enables us to better
identify program availability and accessibility, as well as potential points of coordination and collaboration.
Overall, the committee found that comprehensive data on the summertime experiences of children and youth were completely lacking (see Box 2-1). But the committee notes that there is significantly more information available on summertime experiences provided by government and nonprofit agents than by for-profit agents or agents that serve select subgroups, such as youth involved with the juvenile justice system.
Opportunities for summertime experiences can vary across a wide range of activities and contexts, from homes and community-based settings to schools and juvenile justice settings. One way to characterize these summertime experiences for children and adolescents is based on structure (Osgood et al., 2005). Specifically, the structure of summertime experiences can be considered along a continuum based on the degree to which restrictions are placed on how children and youth spend their time (Osgood et al., 2005). Structured activities (e.g., enrichment programs, lessons, tutoring, chores, religious activities, organizational meetings) are those that are generally more restrictive on how children and youth spend their time, while unstructured or less structured activities (e.g., free play alone or with others; reading; media and screen time; child-directed practice of sports or hobbies; social outings like parties and picnics; other entertainment) are less restrictive (Barker et al., 2014). Embedded in the use of structure to characterize youth summertime experiences is the amount of supervision that parents, caregivers, or other adults provide during those experiences, because those providing supervision also have the power to restrict how time is spent.
The context of structured experiences can vary substantially. For instance, a structured experience could reflect an activity planned and facilitated by adults in either a public setting, such as a summer day camp, or a private setting, such as in academic tutoring or private swim lessons. In addition, family activities (e.g., family mealtimes, household work, conversations with family members) could be classified as a structured or an unstructured experience based on the amount of supervision and organization during the family activity (Hofferth and Sandberg, 2001).
The degree to which a summertime experience is structured is an important consideration when determining whether an out-of-school time activity may promote positive youth outcomes (Bartko and Eccles, 2003; Osgood et al., 2005). Less structured experiences such as free play are also important for a child’s development, because “children do not learn only in formal settings. For young children, play is their work” (Hofferth and Sandberg, 2001, p. 295). The links between structured and unstructured experiences and child development are discussed further in Chapter 3.
Because there are no comprehensive data on the number of children and youth in the United States involved in structured and unstructured summertime experiences, the committee relied heavily on time-use surveys
to build a picture of how children spend their summers. At the federal level, the United States Department of Labor’s ATUS provides estimates on the amount of time Americans spend doing various activities, such as paid work, child care, volunteering, and socializing. It is limited, inasmuch as it fails to (1) differentiate between summertime and other times of the year, (2) measure time use for youth under the age of 15, and (3) measure time use for youth populations not living within a household. Despite that, the ATUS is a valuable source of information on how American youth spend their time on average each day, allowing the committee to extrapolate information on how they may on average spend their time in the summer. Additionally, the committee relied on two key national surveys that reported on summertime experiences. A notable limitation of the available data on the summertime experiences of children and youth is the lack of comparable data for experiences of different duration (e.g., for 1-day, 1-week, and summer-long experiences). Dosage as it relates to outcomes associated with summertime experiences is discussed further in Chapter 4.
In a national study of children’s experiences during the summer after kindergarten, Redford and colleagues (2018) surveyed a nationally representative sample of 18,170 children ages 5–6 from 1,310 schools and interviewed the person most familiar with each child’s daily care, health, and education (i.e., their parent/guardian) to determine how children spent their time. The study identified a number of structured and unstructured, enrichment and family activities, as seen in Table 2-1. Note that some experiences may have been less likely than others to be reported due to the young age of the children sampled; for example, overnight camp experiences are generally unavailable until a child turns age 8 or 9. The links between the likelihood of these experiences and household poverty and parental education shown in the table are discussed in more detail in Chapter 5.
The results of another national survey were key to the committee’s work to catalog the summertime experiences of children and youth. The 2014 America After 3PM report, produced by the Afterschool Alliance and based on a survey of 13,709 households, chronicled how children and youth spend their time between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m., the hours after school ends and before parents typically return home from work (Afterschool Alliance, 2014). While the study’s focus was on afterschool time use, its survey included questions on summertime programming. Table 2-2 breaks down some of the data collected by geography.
The Afterschool Alliance survey found that
- Thirty-three percent of responding families had at least one child participate in a summer program in 2013, an increase from 28 percent in 2008.
|Summertime Experience||Percentage of Children Surveyed||Comparison Based on Household Poverty Status (poor and nonpoor)||Comparison Based on Parent Education|
|Self-Directed Outdoor Play||76||No differences||No differences|
|Visiting Beach, Lake, River, or State or National Park||86||Poor less likely than nonpoor||Less educated less likely|
|Visiting Zoo or Aquarium||64||Poor less likely than nonpoor||Less educated less likely|
|Visiting Amusement Park||58||Poor less likely than nonpoor||No differences|
|Visiting Art Gallery, Museum, or Historical Site||50||Poor less likely than nonpoor||Less educated less likely|
|Attending a Play or Concert||25||Poor less likely than nonpoor||Less educated less likely|
|Attending Day Camp||23||Poor less likely than nonpoor||Less educated less likely|
|Attending Overnight Campa||1||Poor less likely than nonpoor||Less educated less likely|
|Summer School or Other School-Related Enrichment||10||No differences||No differences|
|Reading (child looked at or read a book)||27||No differences||Less educated less likely|
|Reading (family member read to child)||46||Poor less likely than nonpoor||Less educated less likely|
|Math-Related Activity with a Family Member||12||Poor more likely than nonpoor||Less educated more likely|
|Writing-Related Activity with a Family Member||40||Poor more likely than nonpoor||Less educated more likely|
|Using a Computer or Electronic Device for Educational Purposes||16||Near-poor more likely than nonpoor||No differences|
aThis study was conducted with children, ages 5–6, while most overnight camp sessions are designed for older youth and adolescents.
NOTE: Poverty definitions as follows: poor = income below 100 percent of the federal poverty level; near-poor = income between 100 and 199 percent of the federal poverty level; and nonpoor = income at or above 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
SOURCE: Redford et al. (2018).
|Theme||Survey Questions||Nationwide||By Community Type|
|Participation/Demand||Families reporting that at least one child is in a summer learning program (2013)||33%||31%||41%||32%|
|Families reporting that they want their children to be enrolled in a summer learning program (2014)||51%||47%||60%||50%|
|Dosage/Cost||Average hours per day children spend in a summer learning program||4.96||4.85||4.9||5.05|
|Average number of weeks children spend in a summer learning program||5.16||4.87||5.54||5.12|
|Average amount parents spend per week on summer learning programs||$288||$246||$304||$298|
|Parent Support||Parents agreeing it is important that their children have summer activities that help them maintain academic skills and learn new things||73%||71%||79%||72%|
|Parents supporting public funding for summer learning programs||85%||86%||91%||84%|
|Base Sample Size||Number of households surveyed||13,709||4,106||2,638||6,577|
SOURCE: Afterschool Alliance (2019c).
- Families spend, on average $288 per week on summer learning programs, which varies by geography, as seen in Table 2-2 and also by race, with Asian families averaging the highest expenditure (White, $290; Black, $222; Hispanic or Latino, $282; Asian, $408) (Afterschool Alliance, 2019c).
- Eighty-five percent of respondents support public funding for summer programs (Afterschool Alliance, 2019c).
Almost 73 percent of family members surveyed agreed it is important that their children have summer activities that help them maintain academic
skills and learn new things. Across geographies, from urban to rural to suburban, almost 51 percent of respondents reported a desire in access to summer learning programming for their children (Afterschool Alliance, 2019c).
- High rates of unmet summertime program need were reported by parents across racial groups as well (44% White, 67% Black, 60% Hispanic or Latino, 61% Asian) (Afterschool Alliance, 2019c).
- The reported need or interest in programs was highest among families with children in K–5 elementary school (57%) and in middle school (51%).
- Nevertheless, nearly two in five families (39%) with adolescents in grades 9–12 reported a desire for their children to be in a summer program (Afterschool Alliance, 2019c).
These data suggest that the availability of summer programming, or at least actual participation in it, is less than the interest in or need for participating in it.
Self-Directed Play and Free-Time Activities
A high percentage of a child’s summertime activity involves self-directed play and free-time activities. When it comes to daily opportunities for self-directed play, Redford and colleagues (2018) found that 76 percent of children ages 5–6 played outside every day in the summer. The prominence of free-time activities in the daily lives of children in the summer is supported by Mahoney and colleagues (2006), who concluded, “In sum, organized activities do not dominate American young people’s free time. Many alternative free-time activities (e.g., educational activities, playing games, and watching television) consume as much or considerably more time” (p. 7).
Summer allows a designated time for youth to expend their efforts in ways that are not required by the demands of school. This time offers greater opportunity to align family priorities to a child’s interests with available programming. Older youth may have greater opportunity to exercise volition in their summertime activities. However, data on the level of involvement children and youth have in determining their summer activities is not available. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017b) on average each weekday, youth ages 15–19 spent approximately 5 hours on leisure and sports, which included activities such as 2 hours watching television, 1 hour socializing and communicating, 50 minutes playing games and using a computer, 40 minutes participating in sports and recreation (includes related travel), 10 minutes relaxing and thinking, and 8 minutes reading.
In the study by Redford and colleagues (2018) mentioned earlier, the only areas in which the study cohort of rising first graders’ summertime experiences were not influenced by household poverty status or parent education was related to how often these children played outside during the summer and how often they attended summer school. However, a study by Milteer and colleagues (2012) notes that children and youth from underserved and higher-poverty communities generally have less access to safe play spaces and fewer opportunities to participate in both structured and unstructured physical activities outdoors as a result of their family and community contexts (Chapter 5 expands on family and community contexts and summertime experiences).
Family activities make up another important category of children’s summertime experiences and can include mealtime, household work, family leisure, and even household conversations (Hofferth and Sandberg, 2001). Research suggests the most positive family outcomes result when families participate in a blend of predictable or familiar activities and unpredictable or novel activities (Zabriskie and McCormick, 2001). The top five most common family leisure activities include cooking and eating meals together (with 67% of families indicating they participated in that activity “a lot”), participating in outdoor activities such as playing or walking (52% of families), reading together (48% of families), participating in indoor activities such as playing with toys, games, art projects, or video games (47% of families), and watching television or movies at home (42% of families) (The Statistics Portal, 2012). Some children also participate in reading-, writing-, and math-related summertime activities with family members, as seen in Table 2-1. However, as noted by Schwab and Dustin (2015), family leisure now occurs “in ways and environments that feel rushed, fragmented, and distracted in conditions that may not be conducive to the quality interactions needed to realize the full benefits of family leisure” (pp. 181–182).
In addition to these activities, interactions with parents for even short periods of time may have an impact on a child’s summertime experiences, examples including a 5-minute conversation that can inspire a child to read a book or encourage a child to try a new hobby (Gershenson, 2013). Such interactions can create learning opportunities and alter children’s time use in ways that fall outside the scope of parental involvement and are thus missed by the ATUS time diaries.
Another way that children and youth may be engaged in the summertime is through summer enrichment and recreational activities, such as summer school and summer camp (Redford et al., 2018). Of the nearly 54 million children and youth in the United States between ages 5–17 (Kids Count Data Center, 2018), more than 8 million attend summer camp.1 Summer camps can offer enriching experiences in a number of ways. For example, the nature-based settings characteristic of some camp experiences provide a novel environment that many children rarely navigate outside of programs such as camp (Olsen et al., 2018) and may provide environments where youth have reduced access to electronic devices and social media (Sorenson, 2018). Twenty-seven percent of overnight camps limit mobile device usage to camp staff only, and only 9 percent allow youth under age 17 to use a mobile device in some way (American Camp Association, 2017b). Camp also provides an opportunity to expand global awareness through interaction with peers from across the world. In a given summer, youth from 50 different countries may be represented across the population of American Camp Association (ACA) camps; in 2017, the five most well-represented countries were China, England, France, Mexico, and Spain (American Camp Association, 2017a).
Enrichment experiences may also involve local travel. For instance, Redford and colleagues (2018) found that almost 90 percent of the study cohort (86%) visited a beach, lake, river, or state or national park in the summer, but children from poor (81%) and near-poor households (82%) were less likely to participate in these enrichment experiences. Similarly, although 64 percent of the children they studied visited a zoo or aquarium, only 54 percent of children from poor households did so (for youth in near-poor households, the figure was 66%). When a child’s parents had only a high school diploma or less, their children were less likely to have access to enrichment opportunities than other children (Redford et al., 2018). In the case of summer school, however, no differences were found based on household poverty status or parent education (Redford et al., 2018).
Older youth may spend their time during the summer in the workforce or in apprenticeship programs, which allow for structured summertime experiences. Early employment experiences, structured municipal or private-sector-provided programs, and more traditional jobs connect youth
1 Refers to camps that are American Camp Association accredited only; number extrapolated from 2017 ACA data provided by Laurie Brown of ACA.
to people, tasks, rules, and rewards that they may be encountering for the first time. Early work experience—such as that provided by summer jobs—is widely believed to be an important tool for enhancing the future employment prospects and earnings potential of disadvantaged youth (Bailey and Merritt, 1997; Bishop, 1996; Osterman, 1995; Poczik, 1995). However, the prevalence of teen employment has been falling steadily since 2000, with less than one-third of teens ages 16–19 employed today (Modestino and Paulsen, 2019); note that this includes during the summer months, when youth labor force activity tends to be higher than other times of the year (Congressional Research Service, 2017). There are several possible reasons for the decline in youth employment, including fewer jobs available for youth, more competition from adults for jobs traditionally held by youth, an increased minimum wage, and an increase in time spent in school and in unpaid internships (Pew Research Center, 2018). The decline in youth working or looking for work may mean there are fewer pathways for teens to enter the labor market than in the past (Dennet and Modestino, 2013).
Embedded in the declining youth employment trend is a disparity in employment rates across racial and ethnic lines. The labor force participation rate and employment-population ratio generally are highest for White youth, followed by Hispanic youth. Employment-population ratios in 2017 for youth ages 16–24, by race and ethnicity, were as follows: White, 57 percent; Hispanic, 53 percent; Black, 52 percent; and Asian, 42 percent (Fernandes-Alcantara, 2018). Additionally those from higher-income households, those with work experience, and those with higher levels of education were more successful in the labor market. In particular, education and previous work experience were most strongly associated with employment (Sum et al., 2014).
Media and Communication
Other common summertime experiences of children and youth involve electronic media: watching television, consuming digital media, and socializing online with friends. Supporting the previously discussed research by Gershenson (2013), the most recent evidence indicates that children ages 8–12 spend about 6 hours per day consuming some form of media, while adolescents ages 12 and older spend 9 hours per day consuming media (Rideout, 2015). In addition, adolescents ages 15–19 spend about 40 minutes of their leisure time a day involved in socializing and communicating with others (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017b). Youth’s use of social media is intertwined with their time spent socializing. As noted by Barker and colleagues (2014), hours previously devoted to less-structured socializing and social play have been replaced by time spent using digital media, and data regarding digital and social media use are most likely to
become rapidly outdated (Caldwell, 2018). Although these findings are not specific to the summer, they reflect somewhat ubiquitous elements of adolescence that are helpful for describing the summertime experience of children and youth.
Although the time-use study by Redford and colleagues (2018) described previously provides a detailed look at the summertime experiences of children ages 5–6, older children and youth may spend their time differently as they become more autonomous and more likely to be involved in organized activities, and this is true for early adolescents from all socioeconomic backgrounds (Mahoney et al., 2006). Examining time-use data (not specific to summer) from American youth ages 5–18, Mahoney and colleagues (2006) reached findings that are informative regarding how children and adolescents spend their time, including during summertime. The top activities, in descending order of the number of hours of participation, were watching television, playing games, participating in organized activities, participating in educational activities, “hanging out,” and working on household chores. These data are reflective of data collected through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017b).
In this section, we rely on the best-known sources of data to describe summertime experiences for children and youth as provided by key agents, including the cooperative extension system, education agencies, parks and recreation, youth-serving organizations, for-profit companies, and intermediary organizations.
Summer Camp Experiences Provided Across Agents
Summer camp is an American institution with a 150-year history that has evolved into an $18 billion industry (American Camp Association, 2015; Paris, 2008) serving more than 8 million children and youth annually.2 Although the exact number of “summer camps” operating in the United States is unknown, the most comprehensive source of data on the subject is the American Camp Association (ACA), an organization that provides health, safety, and risk management standards for the camp industry and provides an accreditation process for camps meeting these rigorous standards (American Camp Association, 2019a).3 These stan-
2 Number of children and youth served by camps (those accredited by the ACA) extrapolated from 2017 ACA data provided by Laurie Brown of ACA.
3 For more information on ACA accreditation, see https://www.acacamps.org/staff-professionals/accreditation-standards/accreditation/about-aca-accreditation.
dards provide, for example, requirements for staff screening, training, and youth supervision. In addition to ACA accreditation, some states also have licensing requirements that camp providers must follow (American Camp Association, 2018a).
Types of camps can be categorized according to the agent that provides them (see Figure 2-1), as follows:
- Community-based organization camps—public, not-for-profit camps provided by organizations such as Y-USA, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, and Boys and Girls Clubs;
- For-profit camps—which are most often private and independent;
- Nonprofit camps—which are also most often private and independent;
- Government camps—public, not-for-profit camps provided by municipal/city parks and recreation departments, county parks, state parks, federal lands, and national parks;
- Faith-based camps—most often private, independent not-for-profit camps associated with specific religious faiths (see Box 2-2);
- College and university camps—most often private, independent not-for-profit camps associated with colleges or universities;
- Medical and special needs camps—most often private, independent not-for-profit camps serving children with disabilities or special medical needs (see Box 2-2); and
- K–12 camps—most often private, independent not-for-profit camps associated with K–12 schools.
Figure 2-1 provides the percentage of ACA member camps collapsed into three main categories: for-profit, nonprofit, and government. As depicted in this figure, most camps are provided by nonprofit organizations (74%).
Given that the ACA is the best available source of data on national camp demographics and usage, the use of the word “camp” in this section refers to camps accredited by the ACA unless otherwise noted. Most of the data reported in this section were compiled from the ACA’s business surveys. These surveys were developed and administered by the ACA in cooperation with a third-party research firm, Readex Research, and the reported findings are based on the responses of a systematic, stratified sample of camp administrators from the association’s accredited and affiliated camps.
Availability and Accessibility of Camp Experiences
Camps can also be categorized by session type, that is, as either day camps or overnight camps. Day camps are defined as camps with sessions in which youth go home to a parent or guardian each night (except for an occasional overnight program) (American Camp Association, 2012). Overnight camps, which are sometimes labelled “sleepaway” or resident camps, offer sessions in which youth stay overnight, generally in a tent, cabin, lodge, or similar accommodation; such camps are responsible for the youth 24 hours a day (American Camp Association, 2012). Although both day camp and overnight camp experiences may be provided throughout the year, most camp sessions are offered during summertime, specifically from June through August (American Camp Association, 2017b, p. 30). (See table in Appendix B for more detailed comparisons between day and overnight camps).
There are an estimated 14,000 U.S. day and overnight camps. The largest percentage of day camps are nonprofit camps (38%), which includes camps provided by national youth-serving organizations such as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts of America, Y-USA, and Campfire USA. Revenue in these camps is generated primarily through camp fees; in 2017, the average weekly (5-day) fee for day camp was $380 (based on a daily fee of $76) (American Camp Association, 2018b). Most day camps (91%) offer some form of scholarship. In 2017, the typical day camp provided financial assistance to 10 percent of its campers, providing around $15,000 in total funding over
the course of a camp season (i.e., in the form of 25 full or partial scholarships) (American Camp Association, 2018c).
The largest percentage of overnight camps are nonprofit camps, followed by for-profit camps. Revenue in overnight camps is generated primarily through camp fees; the average weekly (5-day) fee for overnight camp is $860 (based on a daily fee of $172) (American Camp Association, 2017b). Most overnight camps (96%) offer some form of scholarship. In 2017, the typical overnight camp provided financial assistance to 15 percent of its campers, providing around $50,000 in total funding over the course of the camp season (i.e., through full or partial scholarships) (American Camp Association, 2018b).
Day camps tend to serve children from middle-income households (46% of the children and youth they serve) and high-income households (27%) relatively more than children from low-income and at-poverty-level households (27% combined), as shown in Figure 2-2 (American Camp Association, 2018c). Overnight camps tend to serve children from middle-income households (38% of the children and youth they serve) and high-income households (29%), while 20 percent of the children and youth they serve are from low-income communities and just 13 percent are at the poverty level (American Camp Association, 2018b). However, many summer camps are not filled to capacity, suggesting an opportunity to serve more youth during summertime through camp experiences. For example, only 14 percent of overnight camps report reaching their full capacity, and an even smaller proportion—4 percent—of day camps reach their full capacity (American Camp Association, 2017a). For-profit camps are more likely than nonprofit and government camps to be filled to capacity. In 2017,
faith-based and government camps reported difficulty in filling their camps to capacity (American Camp Association, 2017a).
The cost of summer programs such as summer camp may help to contextualize the disparity between unmet demand for summer programming and unfilled capacity in camps. According to the 2018 Federal Poverty
Guidelines, a family of four living at 100 percent of the poverty level has $25,100 in yearly income4 or approximately $483/week. A comparison of the cost of 1 week of day or overnight summer camp and this level of income makes it clear that involvement in summer camp is virtually impossible for many families.
Summertime Experiences Provided by the Government
In this section, we describe summertime experiences offered through government vehicles, including Cooperative Extension, parks and recreation, government agency-sponsored youth employment opportunities, public libraries, and state and local education agencies.
Cooperative Extension is the human service dimension of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, serving as the vehicle for translating research-based information from U.S. land-grant institutions to improve practices within local communities. Cooperative Extension also provides summertime opportunities for youth. 4-H is a well-known Cooperative Extension program, administered through more than 100 public universities promoting youth development through hands-on activities that may be delivered through in-school programs, community-based clubs, engagement experiences, and camps. 4-H emphasizes “the importance of young people connecting to their communities, being well-informed and engaged in civic affairs, developing leadership skills, and preparing for college, work, career, and life” (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2015). It is administered through local Cooperative Extension offices with programs delivered by more than 3,500 4-H professionals and half a million volunteers.5 4-H provides a range of out-of-school programming, in-school enrichment programs, clubs, and camps. Youth involvement, which is guided by adult mentors, is often project-based and matched according to a young person’s interests, such as agriculture, leadership, performing arts, animal science, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 4-H reports reaching close to 6 million youth annually, including rural (2.6 million), urban (1.8 million) and suburban (1.5 million) youth (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2015).
Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation (P&R) services are offered primarily through local governments that provides a wide range of summertime opportunities with accompanying benefits that include economic value, health and environmental benefits, and social interaction (National Recreation and Park Association, 2010). P&R provides a variety of resources such as neighborhood parks, trail networks, and aquatic and fitness centers (National Recreation and Park Association, 2017). In these and other venues, P&R offers many programs and activities. Examples of the top out-of-school time programs provided by P&R departments are shown in Figure 2-3 and include, among others, (1) summer day or overnight camp6 (offered by 84% of P&R departments), (2) organized sports leagues (offered by 69% of P&R departments), (3) environmental education (offered by 43% of P&R departments), (4) teen clubs (offered by 34% of P&R departments), (5) nutrition education (offered by 32% of P&R
6 Some P&R camps are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) and may be represented in the ACA data presented earlier. Given the available data, it is not possible to know with certainty to what extent this may be true. Generally speaking, more P&R camps are not accredited by ACA than are accredited by ACA.
P&R funding is derived from both tax and nontax revenues. Tax revenues comprise 59 percent of P&R budgets, with local governments spending approximately $78 per resident on P&R services (National Recreation and Park Association, 2019). Thus, more economically advantaged communities will have more robust P&R budgets, allowing for more programs and services. In addition, a typical P&R agency recovers a significant portion of its operating budget from nontax revenue, such as earned/generated revenue, dedicated levies, grants, and sponsorships (National Recreation and Park Association, 2018b).
Nationally, P&R agencies are reported to serve an average of nearly 200,000 children and youth annually (National Recreation and Park Association, 2016). At the local level (i.e., town/city municipality), the average number of children and youth served by a typical P&R agency through out-of-school time programs is 1,000 children overall, with urban settings averaging 1,400 and rural environments averaging 800 (National Recreation and Park Association, 2016). Forty-five percent of P&R agencies develop programming specifically for female youth and 42 percent for male youth. Additionally, 42 percent of agencies deliver programming geared to minority youth and 8 percent to youth involved in the juvenile justice system (National Recreation and Park Association, 2018a). Although P&R agencies serve children of all ages through out-of-school time programs, most youth served are either elementary or middle-school age (see Figure 2-4).
Youth served through P&R agencies’ out-of-school time programs are racially and ethnically diverse (see Figure 2-5) and serve children and youth across the socioeconomic spectrum. A majority (57%) of P&R professionals report that youth served through out-of-school time programs live in households facing “significant financial challenges” and 1 in 6 youth in P&R out-of-school time programs report being hungry (National Recreation and Park Association, 2018a).
P&R agencies face a number of challenges to serving children through summertime youth programs. One challenge is a need for adequate resources for staff training and preparation, particularly in the areas of navigating adolescence, environment, and STEM (National Recreation and Park Association, 2018a). Securing adequate resources is difficult for P&R agencies because government officials tend to view their programs/services as “the most discretionary line item in their budgets,” despite the fact that 9 out of 10 taxpayers recognize P&R as an important service provided by local governments (National Recreation and Park Association, 2018b, p. 25). This affects both the accessibility and the availability of summer programs since, unlike many other providers of summertime opportunities for youth, P&R agencies serve an ethnically and racially diverse population of youth.
Youth Employment Programs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the youth labor force (16- to 24-year-olds working or actively looking for work) grows sharply between April and July each year. From April to July 2019, the number of employed youth ages 16–24 was 21.2 million. During these months, large numbers of high school and college students search for or take summer jobs. In July 2019, the sectors with the largest percentages of employed youth were the leisure and hospitality industry (25%), the retail trade industry (17%), and in education and health services (13%) (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). The data do not identify youth only employed during the summer months. Data on summer youth employment are limited. A survey (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2016) of 40 U.S. cities reported that nearly 116,000 youth were hired for summer jobs in 2015, representing a small portion of the more than 20 million youth in the U.S. labor force during the summer months.
Summer job programs are generally managed by cities and funded by both public- and private-sector agents. These programs target older youth between ages 14–24. A review of the federal government’s role in summer youth employment (Congressional Research Service, 2017) states that these programs are intended to offer employment experiences and other activities to youth while also potentially meeting broader objectives, which include
- providing income to youth and their families;
- improving academic outcomes and prospects for the employment of youth in the future;
- deterring youth from activities that could lead to their getting in trouble or being harmed; and
- providing greater economic opportunities to youth in areas with few employment prospects.
Since 1964, federal laws have authorized funding to local governments for summer employment activities; however, the provisions about summer employment have shifted over the years. In 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA, P.L. 113-128), was enacted and allocates funding to states based on relative income and employment factors, states in turn allocate funds to localities. This program currently provides the major federal support for youth employment and job training activities throughout the United States. Other federal programs have been put in place to strengthen the summer employment prospects for young people. Under the Summer Jobs and Beyond grant, the U.S. Department of Labor provided $21 million in fiscal 2016 for 11 communities to expand work opportunities for youth during the summer. The executive branch has also encouraged other federal programs, including the Temporary Assistance for
Needy Families (TANF) Program, to provide employment to eligible youth during the summer. While relatedly, the Obama administration developed partnerships with private and nonprofit agents to expand summer job opportunities (Congressional Research Service, 2017).
Declining youth employment rates have led mayors and other municipal leaders to take steps to expand summer employment programs, but little information exists about the source of funding for these programs in localities. Private-sector support encompasses funding to cities both to expand summer youth initiatives and to provide job placements for youth (see Box 2-3). Businesses have provided financial support to multiple cities for summer jobs and created work placement programs for low-income youth across their various business locations (note that there is further discussion of private-sector involvement in youth employment in the latter part of this chapter). There is little information about the cost of operating these programs, although cities report that the largest share of the programs’ budgets is dedicated to subsidized wages. The typical cost per participant is approximately $1,400 to $2,000 (Congressional Research Service, 2017).
The research literature has not fully explored the labor force participation of low-income youth during the summer. One analysis found that the summer employment rate of teens ages 16–19 increases with household income. In the summer months of 2013 and 2014, about one out of every five (20%) teens with household incomes of $20,000 to $39,000 had summer employment, compared with 32 to 41 percent of teens in households with higher incomes (Congressional Research Service, 2017).
Public libraries are well-positioned within communities to provide summer academics and enrichment by serving as a safe environment where children, youth, and families can access programming and resources that help meet a wide variety of academic and developmental needs (Urban Libraries Council, 2018). A 2014 national survey of libraries found that of the 2,304 that responded 95 percent of them offered summer reading programs with the goal of preventing summer learning loss (American Library Association, 2015). Libraries are also eligible to serve as summer meal program sites for their communities, which provides an opportunity to improve nutrition during the summer (The New York Times, 2017). Through their local library, children, youth, and their parents can access programs that provide opportunities for learning and enrichment and learn about services and resources available within their community (California Library Association, 2019).
In partnership with other community agents such as schools, museums, local businesses, local government, and community organizations, public libraries help students who need access to learning and enrichment opportunities in the summertime and might not otherwise have access to summer programs. By leveraging these partnerships, public libraries are able to expand opportunities for children and youth to mitigate summer learning loss and provide experiences that meet community needs in an equitable and community-centered way (Urban Libraries Council, 2018).
State and Local Education Agencies
While schools are not in typical operation during the summer months, most school districts do provide summer programming for children and youth. These programs can be funded by federal, state, or local funds, depending on the type of program and the population served. While a variety of funds can be utilized to offer summer programs, districts face many competing needs for these funds, and they identify lack of funding as the primary barrier to offering summer programs (McCombs et al., 2011). The most notable federal funding source for summer programming is the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) Program, funded under the Every Student Succeeds Act.7 The 21st CCLC Program was funded (as of October 2018) at $1.2 billion and is dispersed as a formula grant to state education agencies, which then offer grant programs to local education agencies in partnership with community-based organi-
7 Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, Pub. L. No. 114–95 § 114 Stat. 1177 (2015–16) Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(ii).
zations (U.S. Department of Education, 2019). The program serves almost 2 million children and families annually through afterschool programs, and the most recent performance report, from the 2015–2016 school year, indicates that 293,949 children and youth participated in summer offerings funded by 21st CCLC (U.S. Department of Education, 2017). Although it is not universal, the 21st CCLC Program is primarily designed to provide programs in low-performing schools where a high percentage of students receive free and reduced lunch. In 2014–2015, 67 percent of program participants received free and reduced lunch and 13 percent had limited English proficiency (Afterschool Alliance, 2018).
State and local education agencies also play a valuable role in helping to reduce food insecurity, which many children and adolescents experience during the summer months. They could do more by working to improve participation in summer nutrition programs, such as the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). In addition to helping to reduce the summer academic and nutritional slide, summer meal programs that provide enrichment and educational activities have been found to be the most successful at maintaining and improving participation. However, many low-income families are unable to access the structured summer educational and enrichment programs that often serve as platforms for these nutrition programs (Food Research and Action Center, 2018, 2019).
Other types of programs offered by school districts (see Chapter 5 for greater discussion) include these:
- Extended school-year programs. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,8 school districts must provide extended school-year services for any student whose disability requires year-round schooling to maintain their academic, social, behavior, or communication skills.
- Credit recovery programs. To help ensure that students graduate on time, school districts provide credit recovery courses over the summer to students who have failed a course. Some students also take these courses as a mechanism for getting ahead and skipping to a more advanced course or fulfilling a requirement over the summer to make room for additional electives during the school year. In 2014–2015, 89 percent of high schools offered at least one credit recovery course to students who needed them (U.S. Department of Education, 2018). Some courses are provided online, while others are in-person, onsite programs.
8 IDEA was previously known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act and enacted in 1975. In 1990, the United States Congress reauthorized EHA and changed the title to IDEA (Public Law No. 94-142).
- Mandatory programs. Some school districts and states require elementary and middle school students performing far below grade level to attend summer school prior to advancing to the next grade. These programs typically offer targeted mathematics and reading instruction.
- Voluntary programs. Some districts and schools also offer voluntary programs to targeted groups of students, including English language learners, low-income students, students performing below grade level, and students transitioning to a new school level, while others open programs up to all students. The content of programming ranges, depending on program goals, and can include core subject instruction in mathematics and reading (for enrichment or remediation), combined academic and enrichment programs, and specialized programming such as arts, STEM, and sports.
In addition to offering programs, some school districts make their schools available to city/county or nonprofit partners or offer joint-use agreements to those who utilize the school facilities to provide recreational programs to children and youth. Schools also serve as a conduit of information about summer programs in the community, distributing information on camps to families and students. In some cases, the state or local education agency partners with local community-based organizations and other state agencies to make sure youth have the support they need over the summer to be successful in school and in life. For example, in San Francisco, Huckleberry Youth Programs offers PROJECT READY (Reconnecting, Educating, and Achieving Dreams for Youth) to help eighth graders successfully transition to high school and avoid contact with the juvenile justice system; this program is supported by the California Board of State and Community Corrections Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program.9 Throughout the country, the formal model of Community Schools has taken hold. Using this model, many communities are able to utilize the school building to host year-round services for community members, including healthcare, enrichment, adult programming, and, in some cases, summer programming.10 Community schools are funded at the local and federal levels through public dollars, often augmented by private and grant funds.
Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems
Although some child welfare and juvenile justice systems provide access to a range of opportunities for youth in their charge (see Box 2-4), we did
9 For more information, see https://www.huckleberryyouth.org/juvenile-justice-diversion.
10 For more information, see http://www.communityschools.org/aboutschools/what_is_a_community_school.aspx.
not find examples of any juvenile justice or child welfare system with a comprehensive approach for system-involved children and youth specific to summertime. Few, if any, child welfare or juvenile justice systems have adequate resources for consistently meeting the developmental needs of the children and youth entrusted to their care. The limited resources of child welfare and juvenile justice systems are often overtaxed in order to provide services to children and youth who, in reality, may not need state intervention. However, a growing number of states have adopted a developmental approach to juvenile justice policy, which includes reducing the use of secure confinement and increasing the use of community-based options (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2019). There are also programs and strategies being implemented in communities that can provide information about local initiatives that encourage positive development during the summer months.
The scientific evidence affirming the need for a developmental approach to juvenile justice has been outlined in previous National Academies reports (2013, 2014), which found that supporting programs and interventions targeted to at-risk youth rather than merely responding with punitive punishment and incarceration can reduce delinquency (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2019). These types of program are not yet common either during the school year or in the summer, when children and youth are more vulnerable due to the lack of structure that the school year provides.
The committee’s review of the literature found that in general, Positive Youth Development (PYD) principles are not being systematically deployed by law enforcement. However, police departments in some municipalities have created programs that provide opportunities for positive police/youth interactions in summertime. For example, the Boston Police Department takes a multipronged approach to preparing for summer. Smart-data driven deployment of resources and increased police presence are only part of the plan, which also involves connecting youth with summer jobs, camps, and training programs. In 2018, the police department and the City of Boston connected hundreds of youth with summer employment or training programs. Police officers in Boston also connect at-risk youth and their families with clinicians and social service providers through YouthConnect,11 the Boston Public Health Commission’s Trauma Teams,12 and BEST (Boston Emergency Services Team) Clinicians.13
13 For more information, see http://northsuffolk.org/services/emergency-services/boston-emergency-services-team.
In addition to helping to connect children and youth with employment and other services, the Boston Police Department runs other youth-focused programs, such as the Boston Police Summer Youth Leadership Academy; Summertime with the Women in Blue; Lunch with a Cop; Stranger Danger/Bullying Intervention; Community Engagement Family Fun Day/Summer BBQs; Summer of Hope Partnership with Boston Public Schools; Junior Police Academy; Teen Academy; and Youth and Police Dialogues; as well as movie nights, field trips, and sports programs. Police departments in both New York City and Newark, New Jersey, have a program called Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids, with the goal of fostering positive relationships between youth in the inner city and local police through conversation, improvisational games, and performance (All Stars Project, 2017). Although this program is not summer specific, it may have characteristics that can inform other strategies for policing children and youth during the summer and improving these interactions.
While some communities have created summertime youth development opportunities designed to meet the needs of children and young people, for those children most at risk of state intervention there is still work to be done. Crime-suppression strategies during the summer would ideally focus on building healthy relationships with youth and providing them with safe, healthy summertime activities.
Summertime Experiences Provided by Commercial Private-Sector Agents
This section explores the different mechanisms through which the private sector contributes to the summertime experiences of children and youth. The primary agents here are for-profit companies. These agents are involved in various ways, including through (1) the sale of goods and services, (2) donation or sponsorship, (3) youth employment and skill development, and (4) employee benefits and human resources policies.
Sale of Goods and Services
The private sector is involved in summertime experiences through the sale of goods and services, including educational programs, recreational theme parks, and day or overnight summer camp experiences (for-profit summer camps are discussed earlier in this chapter). Companies may also offer summer workshops for a fee. For example, the Walt Disney Company provides an extensive array of fee-based workshops year-round for children and youth in areas such as music, dance, acting, and other performing arts.14
Donation or Sponsorship
Companies can also promote summertime activities through cash or in-kind donations, the latter including use of facilities, volunteers, program materials, and administrative support. Volunteers with specialized skills or expertise are particularly valuable in enhancing out-of-school time programs, programs that otherwise might not have the resources to acquire staff (Grossman et al., 2009). Salesforce, for example, is a software company that runs a skills-based volunteering program. Nonprofits can apply to this program, in which Salesforce technical employees volunteer to implement Salesforce software for projects that match their expertise free of charge (Salesforce, 2019). Corporate volunteer programs such as this can provide opportunities for employees to work with organizations that offer summertime experiences for children and youth.
Data on the amount or type of donations that U.S. corporations contribute toward summertime-specific activities are not published. However, a Wallace Foundation commissioned report (Grossman et al., 2009) provides some insight into corporate donations for out-of-school time programs. The report found that of the 111 out-of-school time programs surveyed across six cities, 26 percent of elementary school/middle school programs and 22 percent of teen programs received corporate donations, and corporate donations on average made up 7 percent of elementary school/middle school programs’ total revenue and 8 percent of teen programs’ total revenue (Grossman et al., 2009).
Another way in which companies sponsor summer activities is by offering product incentives to target consumers that augment company objectives in areas such as learning, safety, food and nutrition, and physical activity. For example, Barnes & Noble advertises summer reading programs in which children can receive free books as a reward for reading completion (Barnes and Noble, 2019); TD Bank makes a cash deposit in a TD savings account in exchange for summer reading (TD Bank, 2019);
14 For more information, see https://www.disneyyouth.com/programs/performing-arts/workshops.
and Nestlé offers a 1-day camp focused on healthy living that aligns with the company’s nutrition, health, and wellness strategy (Nestlé, 2019a, 2019b). While these companies are directly involved in their sponsorships, other companies may act more indirectly, for example by working with nonprofit partners to implement summer programming.
STEM learning and STEM project–based activities have proliferated in both nonprofit and for-profit out-of-school time programs in an effort to ameliorate the skills gap, provide engaging hands-on activities for young people, and generally make out-of-school time activities more engaging and relevant for today’s participants. STEM out-of-school time programs have been funded by the National Science Foundation and by private funders such as the Noyce Foundation (since sunsetted), which funded STEM Next (National Science Foundation, 2019). STEM Next works to “bring high-quality STEM learning to millions of young people and closing the gender gap in STEM careers.”15
There is also much activity to expand programming in STEM disciplines to alleviate current and future workforce needs for STEM professionals (Roberts et al., 2018). Corporations are keenly aware of their STEM talent needs, and they are also aware of the compelling evidence that STEM learning experiences increase young people’s interest in STEM subjects and increase the chance that they will pursue STEM-related careers (Roberts et al., 2018). They have responded by directly providing or supporting summertime STEM initiatives (see Box 2-5). Such STEM summer programs engage youth in hands-on, inquiry-based learning, which offers them an opportunity to build math and literacy skills during the summer (National Summer Learning Association, 2016). Corporations are also supporting the capacity of youth organizations to provide more robust and inclusive STEM learning opportunities (National Research Council, 2015).
Youth Employment and Skill Development
Corporate-sponsored youth employment opportunities are another way in which the private sector is influencing the summertime experiences of children and youth. Summer offers a more available adolescent workforce, and companies of different sizes and from many industries have reported that employing youth can help them address their business workforce needs in a number of ways. These include strengthening the pipeline of future employees, filling critical skills gaps, fostering greater customer connection through greater workforce diversity, and capturing innovative ideas for product or service improvement (U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 2015). Summer jobs also provide youth with opportunities to learn and practice the skills required in a work environment (Ross and Kazis, 2016).
These skills include critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and work ethic, and they are in high demand by the business community (Lippman et al., 2015). Employees with strong skills in these areas are better able to analyze, problem solve, and challenge conventions by asking more probing questions, which in turn can contribute to improved processes, services, and products for a company (Lippman et al., 2015).
Data on a national scale of the number of private-sector summer jobs filled by youth each year are not available. Nevertheless, businesses such as JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citi see value in youth employment and have provided financial support to numerous cities for summer jobs programs and have created work placement programs (Congressional Research Service, 2017). In a JP Morgan Chase (2017) report, the company defined three levels of private-sector engagement in youth employment: (1) low-level support, including career fairs, workplace tours, networking events, and job shadowing; (2) moderate-level support, including training, skills development, education, and mentoring; and (3) high-level support, including direct employment of youth as interns, apprentices, or employees.
Employee Benefits and Human Resources Policies
Private-sector employers can directly augment summer experiences for the children of their adult employees through employee benefits that are considered “family friendly.” One highly valued benefit program is the provision of on- or near-site child care centers at no or low costs or subsidies for other summer care arrangements. Additionally, corporations may contract with national camp companies, like Steve and Kate’s camp16 and Galileo,17 which house camps on local school campuses, by purchasing or reserving spaces for employees’ children to gain admission.18 Some companies use their own assets to host summer camps. For example, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts offers the children (grades K–9) of Walt Disney World cast members and the children of cast members’ friends access to a Conservation Day Camp at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, for a fee.19 Other examples include SAS Corporation’s on site summer camp for school-age children of employees at the company’s North Carolina headquarters (SAS, 2019); Cisco Systems’ summer camps for employees’ school-age children run through their LifeConnections Children’s Learning Centers;20
18 Personal communication between committee member Pamela Hymel and Ginsberg Kernsher Associates.
19 Information on this program is not publicly available but provided here by committee member and Disney employee, Pamela Hymel.
20 For more information, see https://lifeconnections.cisco.com/c/r/lifeconnections/childcare.html.
and Texas Instruments’ nearly 4 months of full-time, state-licensed summer break camps at three sites for employees’ children ages 5–13 (Texas Instruments, 2012).
Human resource policies supporting work-life balance can also affect the summertime experience of employees’ children. Flexible work schedules that allow teleworking, flexible work hours, or early release during summer months (e.g., early release on Fridays, often known as “summer Fridays”), may provide opportunities for greater parental contact time or supervision of dependent children.
The impact of these employee benefits and human resource policies on the summertime experiences of children and youth are not generally published in the open literature. It is not possible, therefore, to know the magnitude and varieties of outcomes achieved. Available information is primarily from case examples containing program descriptions and, occasionally, numbers of participants.
Summertime Experiences Provided by Nonprofit Sector Agents
Structured or organized activities are provided in the summer by nonprofit youth-serving organizations at the national and local level. Their offerings are varied, ranging from the arts to STEM, recreation, general enrichment, and tutoring or bridge programs.
Nonprofit youth-serving organizations first emerged in the United States started in the early 1900s to serve children and youth who were considered “in crisis” in society (LeMenestrel and Lauxman, 2011). From the late 1980s through early 2000, a series of reports were released, including one authored by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (2002), which found that youth-serving organizations mitigate the potential risks posed in adolescence, with the most promising programs being strengths-based and tied to family and community assets (Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 1992; Catalano et al., 2004; William T. Grant Foundation Commission on Work, Family, and Citizenship, 1988). Today, youth-serving organizations function at the national, state, and local level to provide structured summer programming. The large national nonprofit organizations (“big nationals”) include but are not limited to the Y (formerly YMCA), Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts of America, 4-H (which is described in greater detail earlier in this chapter), and Girls Inc. These organizations operate camps and provide community and school-based summer programming, child care, family programs, and tutoring (The Bridgespan Group, 2005).
There exists varied information on the number of children and youth who participate in such programs over the summer. For example, the Y-USA reports that it serves almost 1 million children and adults in the summer through its day and overnight camps. But there are no publicly available estimates of the numbers of children and youth served in general summertime programs by the big nationals, as these data are retained by the organizations and not summarized in any source the committee was able to identify. As such, it is difficult to know specifically how accessible summer programs offered by youth-serving organizations are to young people and their families. The youth-serving organizations described here have it in their current charge, mission, or vision to provide opportunities to young people from varied socioeconomic backgrounds. While it is a charge and belief of nonprofit youth-serving organizations to provide equitable access and inclusion to summer programs, we do not have information on whether that charge is being fulfilled. However, we can use the Afterschool After 3PM and Time Use studies to understand the broad landscape of access, with the understanding that some of the issues of use and access described by those findings reflect on the programs offered (or not offered) by youth-serving organizations.
There are also national organizations that provide innovative supports or direct summer programming through the big nationals or are co-located within other existing organizations, agencies, or programs. BELLXcel, a national education nonprofit, and Horizons National, a national nonprofit network of community-centered education programs, use this model. BELLXcel’s model is intended to help bolster the capacity of youth-serving organizations to diminish the “summer slide.” BELLXcel offers support with program design, curriculum, professional development, coaching, and evaluation, among other modular options, for professionals who work with youth in the summer and after school (BELLXcel, 2019). Horizons National offers hands-on learning in the summer on college, university, and independent school campuses for youth in enrichment programs to support academic and personal success, specifically in reading and math (Horizons National, 2019). Finally, summer programs are offered locally by independent youth-serving organizations that provide year-round out-of-school time programming for children, youth, and families. It is also difficult to estimate the number of children and youth who participate annually in these local programs, because there is no central tracking mechanism for them and reporting varies by funder, locale, and programmatic preference. The funding for these organizations is diverse as well, typically a combination of public and private dollars augmented with individual donors or endowments.
Intermediary Organizations and Partnerships in Support of Summer
Intermediary organizations (or intermediaries) increasingly support the out-of-school time field at the municipal and regional levels; see Box 2-6 for one example. Intermediaries in the summer program space have, in large part, been catalyzed and supported by foundations (e.g., Wallace Foundation and the C.S. Mott Foundation). These foundations provide the seed or backbone funding and support to intermediaries, who then in turn ensure the success of summer programs at the local, state, and national levels. Intermediary organizations serve as central organizing, leadership, fundraising, measurement, and support systems for groups of afterschool, summer, and other youth- and family-serving programs (Donner, 2012). Intermediaries have varying organizational structures. Some are independent, while others are housed in other organizations or agencies with shared staff (Browne, 2015; Honig, 2004). The purpose of intermediaries is typically to advance the mission of the field they are convening and supporting through policy and advocacy activities, shared services (e.g., technical assistance, partnership coordination), and as conveners and connectors (Anthony and Austin, 2008; Lubienski et al., 2011). Often, intermediaries provide efficiencies to small grassroots programs by offering shared services and resources, such as data collection systems, program materials, or evaluation support (Donner, 2012;
There are also intermediary coalitions at the local and national level. For example, following in the footsteps of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, the mayor of New York City created the Young Men’s Initiative (YMI) in 2011. Although not specifically a summertime program only, YMI is a collaborative effort including multiple city agencies and youth-service organizations (NYC Service, the Department of Education, Department of Youth & Community Development, Center for Youth Employment, and community-based mentoring organizations) to address increasing disparities in education, employment, health, and justice between black and Latino men ages 16–24 and more advantaged youth populations. Specifically, YMI develops and champions policies, programs, and partnerships that holistically support the success of young men of color throughout New York City.21
Additionally, YMI is connecting the city’s young men of color to individuals, opportunities, and organizations that improve the quality of their lives and can lead them to a more successful future. This example is one of many powerful citywide efforts to bring together agencies and organizations to support youth in the summertime and beyond.
The variety of roles intermediaries play is reflected in the variety of organizations that serve in this capacity. Some national intermediaries primarily serve in the policy and advocacy space (see Box 2-7). In addition to national organizations, there are many local intermediaries, such as the local United Ways and city, county, and other public agencies, where child and family services are housed, and in some cases university institutes or centers play this role as well. Intermediaries receive diverse funding. In the out-of-school time field, foundations have provided significant seed funding to intermediaries, and many intermediaries have creatively diversified their funding by combining public and private funds and, in some cases, membership fees (Donner, 2012).
21 For more information, see https://www1.nyc.gov/site/ymi/about/about.page and https://www1.nyc.gov/site/ymi/initiatives/initiatives.page.
This chapter illustrates that a great variety of structured and unstructured summertime programs exist for children and youth. However, varying local availability and affordability create disparities in access to children and youth from lower-income communities. Structured summer programs are supported and offered by a range of agents from multiple sectors (e.g., education, entertainment, government), but data from these activities are
highly variable, with more information available on structured summertime experiences provided by governmental agents than by nonprofit and private-sector agents.
CONCLUSION 2-1: Existing summertime programs and services for children and youth are provided by multiple sectors and agents; however, decisions by these sectors and agents on what experiences to provide are made independently and typically with limited or no coordination to optimize the total impact of summertime experiences for children and youth.
CONCLUSION 2-2: Improving the accessibility and availability of summer programs by reducing barriers to equitable participation (e.g., cost, geography, special needs) could help to address the unmet demand that families have for quality summer experiences for their children and improve access to summer nutrition programs.
CONCLUSION 2-3: There is limited comprehensive data on how children and youth spend their summer. Systematic assessments of community needs for summertime experiences and longitudinal studies of unstructured and structured summertime experiences (both in terms of what is being provided as well as what is needed) are needed to identify opportunity gaps and priorities across diverse populations of children and youth.
CONCLUSION 2-4: Summer camps provide unique experiences (such as sustained time in a novel setting with supportive peers and adults) for children and youth representing diverse populations, yet summer camp experiences are not readily accessible to all children and youth.
CONCLUSION 2-5: The private sector is well positioned to have an impact on summer experiences by employing youth directly and by promoting family-friendly policies and corporate social responsibility initiatives that engage children and youth during the summer months.
CONCLUSION 2-6: Juvenile justice and child welfare systems do not have a comprehensive approach for system-involved children and youth specific to summertime.
CONCLUSION 2-7: Intermediaries play an important role in connecting public, private, and nonprofit entities with shared goals, improving
efficiencies within partnerships, and supporting children and youth during the summer.
CONCLUSION 2-8: In many communities, intermediaries serve as central organizing, leadership, fundraising, measurement, and support systems for groups of afterschool, summer, and other youth- and family-serving programs.
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