Maryland Out of School Time

Working Parent

The Unmet Demand for Maryland's After School Programs

Are you caught in the 3PM Gap?


By Eddie Velosa


Last year, just 16% of Maryland’s K–12 students participated in after school programs. It's a statistic that jumps off the page.[1]


For many working parents, struggling to find affordable after school programs during the all-vulnerable 3PM Gap — the hours between 3 to 6 p.m. when 21% of Maryland's elementary school children go unsupervised[2] — has become a discouraging reality. If you're one of the 84% of Maryland adults who support statewide public funding for after-school programs, there is hope, but concerned parents must make their voices heard.


A 2014 Afterschool Alliance survey reported that the average weekly cost of Maryland after school programs was $138; for summer programs, that figure jumped to an average cost of $306 weekly.[3] According to The Washington Post, those costs are second only to the mortgage or rent in the average family budget.[4]


But of the parents who were able to enroll their children, 87% of them said they are satisfied with the quality of care, 64% said it gives them peace of mind at work, and 69% said it helped them keep their jobs.[5]


This bodes well for the working parents who can afford adequate extracurricular opportunities and care for their children, but for those who cannot, the demand has simply not been met by the state.


Quality after school programs have the ability to excite children about learning, spark their curiosity and connect school-day lessons to their everyday lives. They have the capacity to strengthen students' engagement in school and help them set higher educational goals for themselves while building a 21st-century skill set applicable to today's innovative workforce.[6]


New research illustrates that more time spent engaged in after school programs during the elementary years is linked to narrowing the gap in math achievement by the age of five, most prominently when STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum is explored. Still, there are nowhere near enough programs in the state that meet the criteria that accelerates the learning curve.


"Over the past decade, after school programs in Maryland have become increasingly sophisticated, integrating STEM and the Arts," said Ellie Mitchell, director of Maryland Out of School Time Network (MOST), a non-profit youth development organization dedicated to more and better after school opportunities for Maryland's youth by creating a sustainable structure of statewide, regional and local partnerships. "Parents' satisfaction with after school programs is at an all-time high. Unfortunately, Maryland hasn't done enough to make sure there are enough programs available and accessible for the children and families that need them most."


So how can working parents help motivate Maryland lawmakers to move the needle toward meeting the demands for a bright future for its children while maintaining a healthy work/life balance for its employees?


First, parents can join Ms. Mitchell and MOST Network in helping to secure strong school and community partnerships that focus on driving policy development at all levels. And since MOST is an advocate for increasing the necessary resources needed for more and better after school programs, parents can assist in ensuring the high quality and affordability of statewide programming by supporting them.


One key initiative of MOST is the MY3PM (Maryland Youth at 3PM) campaign aimed at building a collective voice among working parents, community stakeholders, civil leaders, business owners and human resources executives, for the need to increase and continue statewide after school funding. A collective voice is instrumental in influencing key local and state legislators that affordable and accessible extracurricular programming should be part of Maryland’s critical initiatives to support working families overall well-being, while at the same time continuing to drive social impact and economic growth.


Only 35% of parents report that they have at least one child in an after school program, which leads to 28% of Maryland K-12 youth being left unsupervised for an average of 10 hours per week. This figure increases to 35% when considering youth in grades 9 through 12.[7]


State funding for after school programs was cut off in 2009, and Maryland now has fewer programs overall and ranks in the bottom 10 states nationwide in terms of number of programs offered. That's unacceptable.


Working parents deserve far better when it comes to affordable access to active after school solutions for their children when they're still at work. It's up to parents to voice their concerns and reveal their demand for programs that work to meet the standards necessary to achieve peace of mind on the job and deliver on expectations necessary to effectively engage children across the state in after school.


Learn more about MOST Network and how your family can make a difference for Maryland's school-aged children and for parents working hard to care for them.





Find an Afterschool Program in your Community


Learn More about MY3PM for Parents


Learn More about participating as a MY3PM Business Partner and serving as a MOST Ambassador.


Information For News Media and Policy Makers




[1] Afterschool Alliance:

[2] Afterschool Alliance:

[3] Afterschool Alliance:

[4] The Washington Post:

[5] Afterschool Alliance:

[6] Afterschool Alliance:

[7] Afterschool Alliance: