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How Data Mapping Can Inform Out-of-School Time Policy

By Autumn Rivera  |  January 3, 2023

NCSL has provided technical assistance to nearly 50 states, with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, to help statewide afterschool networks collect, analyze and package out-of-school time program data. For nine years, the Afterschool Data Grant initiative has aimed to provide policymakers with the afterschool and summer learning data. NCSL identifies the most relevant data and the most succinct ways to share it with legislators and staff.

Many states have begun using geographic information system software to display data on layered maps. This type of visualization helps policymakers see where the need for afterschool and summer learning programs is high and where program access is lacking, as well as helping to understand patterns.

Other state projects have consisted of return-on-investment studies to help policymakers understand the economic benefit derived from afterschool and summer learning program investments. NCSL recently wrapped up its work with the 2022 Data Grant cohort: Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia.

Interactive Mapping

The Connecticut Afterschool Network created three policy maps focused on program availability and overlaid with municipal demographics on race, income and social vulnerability index. The first map identified opportunity deserts, highlighting the need in communities of color and certain rural areas, and displayed the absolute number of program slots and the percentage of all participating students. The second map displayed a similar analysis of available summer program slots. The third map identified related community services, such as youth service bureaus, school readiness councils and other local initiatives available in select cities and towns.

The Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network created an interactive map that overlays Georgia’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Afterschool Care Programs and licensed child care sites on six community indicators to help visualize the need for programming. The interactive map also overlays Building Opportunities in Out-of-School Time sites, which are part of a three-year grant program offered to community-based organizations that operate comprehensive out-of-school programming. By looking at access to government-funded afterschool and summer learning programs, the network has depicted how these programs intersect with other indicators of child well-being, including child poverty, educational attainment, third grade literacy, non-English speaking households, internet access and vehicle access, allowing Georgia to depict the data from a whole-child approach. 

Addressing Learning Loss

The Hawaii Afterschool Alliance is creating a GIS map to show afterschool program sites per capita across the state and identify which programs are best equipped to address learning loss. The map will also overlay data points, including demographic, poverty and education, to reveal which communities (e.g., Native Hawaiian or rural areas) have fewer out-of-school time opportunities. The alliance also created a one-pager featuring Hawaii-specific data from the “America After 3PM” report.

The Maryland Out of School Time Network completed a community schools map and overlaid it with various indicators, including school-based health centers, pantries and county profiles. Before the 2023 legislative session begins, the network will have completed another map outlining the state’s expanded learning programs. The network also plans to host webinars about the data to share with policymakers and additional stakeholders following the competition of its second map.

The Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership created the Afterschool Story Map, which displays the intersections between social determinants of health, out-of-school time programs and funding sources. The map includes locations of licensed programs, 21st Century Learning Centers and community-based organization programs. The map overlays include child poverty, racial and ethnic demographics, and rurality. The partnership uses these indicators to show intersections between structural barriers, academic achievement and the local of out-of-school time programs.

The Virginia Partnership for Out-of-School Time created the VA OST Access Map, which shows program locations and compares them with a range of factors. It takes a deeper look at the state’s out-of-school time program network, working families, poverty, indicators of need and legislative district breakdowns. The partnership created spotlight stories for several regions across the state. These one-pagers share programs’ personal stories, highlight diversity within the field, and identify how specific investments could benefit the programs.

For more information on this project and the GIS maps of previous grantee cohorts, visit NCSL’s Afterschool Data Grant Project webpage.

Autumn Rivera is a policy specialist with NCSL’s Education Program.

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