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Afterschool Programs in Milwaukee County Get Low Grades

Public Policy Forum

A review of the state's "YoungStar" rating system finds most afterschool programs in Milwaukee County are failing to make the grade.

An ongoing review of local early childhood and afterschool programs has uncovered many operations here are lacking experienced or well trained instructors. The Public Policy Forum released its latest report, Reaching for the Stars, on afterschool programming in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Rob Henken, President of the Public Policy Forum, says the group reviewed a rating system used by the state to evaluate providers seeking funding from the Wisconsin Shares Program.

Organizations with two stars forfeit some funding while four and five star programs get bonuses.

Henken most afterschool operations are get low marks.

"We found that nearly three-quarters of the school age programs that have been rated so far have received two star ratings," Henken says.

Meanwhile, he says there is a small numbers of top performers. "Fewer than one percent of school age programs have received ratings of four or five stars," Henken says.

Henken says research shows a lack of well trained staff is a leading reason so many programs are getting low ratings.

"Overwhelmingly, where the providers are having difficulty is in meeting the requirements for three, four or five stars, was in the educational credentials of their staff," Henken says.

Henken says the fact that the afterschool programs offer mostly low paying and part time jobs, it's difficult to attract, and retain, well trained staff.

The latest study is part of a series of research projects by the Public Policy Forum into local early childhood and after school programs.