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Opinion/McKamey and Restler: Invest in out-of-school time to revive RI economy

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Guest columnists Corinne McKamey and Victoria Restler are faculty members in Rhode Island College’s Youth Development Program and fellows of the Social Policy Hub for Equity Research in Education (SPHERE).

Out-of-school time (OST) learning, including before- and after-school programs and summer camps, is key to funding Rhode Island’s post-pandemic recovery.

COVID-19 has crippled our economy, disrupted education, and negatively impacted Rhode Islanders. Our young people — and especially working-class youth of color — have been navigating immense financial, educational, emotional and health challenges. Out-of-school time programming can be a bridge toward healing and growth for youth, families and our state.

Funding these programs — providing robust professional development opportunities for OST professionals and paying OST workers a living wage — will stimulate a threefold investment in Rhode Island’s recovery.

First, OST benefits youth. Young people spend most of their time — over 80% — outside of school. OST programs are vital to filling this time with joyful learning and engagement. These programs reduce dropout rates, promote English language learning, offer essential nutrition and help youth develop social-emotional skills. High-quality OST experiences position youth to earn better wages as adults and to actively contribute as democratic participants.

Second, OST benefits families. Such programs extend […]

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