Trump budget casualty: After-school programs for 1.6 million kids. Most are poor.

Published in The Washington Post

Every weekday, 700 children from some of the poorest parts of the Atlanta area stay after school for three hours with Wings for Kids, a program that aims to bolster not only academic performance but also social skills, relationships with caring adults and a sense of belonging at school.

The kids get a safe and enriching place to spend the afternoon and early evening, and their working parents get child care. But now, Wings for Kids and thousands of programs like it are on the chopping block, threatened by President Trump’s proposal to eliminate $1.2 billion in grants for after-school and summer programs.

“It’s heart-wrenching,” said Bridget Laird, chief executive of Wings for Kids, which serves 1,600 children in Atlanta; Charlotte; Charleston, S.C.; and rural Lake City, S.C. She said Thursday that without federal aid, those programs would be eliminated or gutted. “I can’t imagine if that were turned off — all of those kids running around the streets.”

The program Trump is seeking to ax — known as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers — helps school districts, churches and nonprofit groups serve more than 1.6 million children nationwide.

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