(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Annette Quijano and Shavonda Sumter to improve the delivery of before-school, after-school and summer services and programs for New Jersey students was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.
“As the bundle of sticks fable taught us, there is strength in union,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “There are many governmental and nonprofit agencies and organizations throughout the state working independently to provide these services for students that could benefit from knowledge-sharing and a more universal systematic approach to enhance service delivery.”
“There are many wonderful organizations in the state providing these types of programs, but they can only be so effective, if they are all working in a vacuum,” said Quijano. “This will help provide these services in a more efficient manner to better service the families that rely on them.”
“Many families depend on these services to supplement a child’s education or provide recreational opportunities,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It is in their best interest, and ours, to ensure these different entities are working in unison to maximize the services being offered.”
The bill (A-4119) would establish a New Jersey Out-of-School Time Advisory Commission.
The duties of the commission would be to:
- assess the state of out-of-school time programs in New Jersey by reviewing the policies of all state agencies that fund before-school, after-school or summer programs, as well as review existing research and best practices;
- adopt appropriate statewide standards for out-of-school time program design, implementation and assessment;
- examine the existing amount of funding available for out-of school time programs and the source of the funding; and
- examine the development and operation of out-of-school time programs in urban, suburban and rural school districts, and make recommendations to increase the accountability and quality of the before-school, after-school and summer programs.
The commission would consist of 20 members including the Commissioners of Education, Human Services, and Children and Families, ex officio, or their designees, the Secretary of Higher Education, ex officio, or a designee, a Senate member appointed by the Senate president, an Assembly member appointed by the Assembly speaker, and 14 public members appointed by the governor, including one representative from each of the following: the New Jersey Council for Young Children; the Association for Children of New Jersey; the New Jersey School Age Care Coalition; the New Jersey Association of School Administrators; the New Jersey Parent-Teacher Association; the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network; the New Jersey Education Association; the New Jersey State Federation of Teachers; the New Jersey School Boards Association; the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association; the New Jersey Charter Schools Association; the Advisory Committee for Nonpublic Schools of the Department of Education; the New Jersey Child Care Association, and one academic researcher in the field of youth development.
The bill directs the commission to issue an interim report of its findings and recommendations, including any recommended legislation, to the governor, the Senate Education Committee, and the Assembly Education Committee, no later than one year after its organizational meeting, and a final report no later than two years after its organizational meeting. The commission would expire 30 days after the submission of the final report.
The bill was approved 61-13-0 by the Assembly and now awaits final legislative approval by the Senate. The Senate approved the bill last June, but it was amended in the Assembly Education Committee last month, so it must go before the Senate again.