Family, neighborhood and school factors associated with before and after school programs attendance

Date of Completion

January 2006


Education, Educational Psychology




Policy makers', educators' and parents' concern for students spending unsupervised time after school has increased calls for after-school programs. Although the majority of these programs have targeted immigrant neighborhoods and low-income families, Shann (2001) found that 77.2% of students in a New England city did not participate in a before or after school program. Furthermore, Weisman and Gottfredson (2001) found that after-school programs are serving a lower-risk population than intended. It follows that if these programs are reaching neither large numbers of students nor the intended population, there is a need to study which factors are associated with before and after school program attendance. The study reported herein uses an ecological perspective to investigate the importance of a variety of factors in after-school program attendance.^ Previous research on after-school programs has studied maternal education, race, family income, neighborhood safety and neighborhood organization, among other variables. These studies were regional in nature and did not include a variety of variables that might also influence program attendance. The present study used national data available through the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study---Kindergarten (ECLSK). From this data set, variables related to family, neighborhood and school were selected to create factors that might be related to students' attendance at before/after school programs.^ After running principal component analyses, parenting practices and neighborhood safety were identified as unidimensional factors with an alpha reliability of .72 and .74, respectively. These analyses also suggested that parent involvement policies should be divided into two factors: (1) parent involvement in schools, and (2) school policies for parent involvement. In the case of categorical variables (family structure, neighborhood organization and school support of parents), no factor analyses were run.^ The study found that program attendance at before/after school programs decreases significantly from kindergarten to first grade (χ2 = 58.129, p = .000). Through Hierarchical Generalized Linear Modeling, the research also found that socioeconomic status (γ10 = .5416) and neighborhood safety (γ30 = .51069) are associated with a higher probability of student attendance at after-school programs. On the other hand, parenting practices (γ 20 = -.3214), living with one's biological parents (γ40 = -.2807) and living with both parents (γ50 = -.7153) are associated with a lower probability of student attendance at these programs. ^