FY25 Executive Budget Plan Merges Advantage and Empire State After-School Programs into New Streamlined LEAPS Initiative.
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that more than $100 million in state grants – an increase of $17.7 million over last year’s funding – will be made available to fund after-school programs across New York State. The new Learning and Enrichment After-School Program Supports grants will be distributed through the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, and are expected to provide services to more than 40,000 children in high-need areas.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, many children and youth were disconnected from after-school programming and lost out on this critical means to receive academic support and build stronger social connections,” Governor Hochul said. “This funding will give young people another safe space to grow and express themselves and assure parents that their child’s learning and development isn’t confined to school hours.”
The Learning and Enrichment After-School Program Supports (LEAPS) initiative combines the existing Advantage and Empire State after-school programs into a single, streamlined program which will standardize funding and eligibility and reduce administrative burdens for providers. Approximately $97.5 million in LEAPS after-school programs will serve youth from pre-k through high school. The combined after-school funding also includes a $2.25 million pilot program to provide positive youth development opportunities and services to adolescents during out-of-school time, as well as $1 million for a technical assistance provider.
Awards are expected to be announced in April 2024, with the LEAPS contracts beginning September 1st – in time for the start of the next school year.
New York State Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner and Child Care Availability Task Force Co-Chair Suzanne Miles-Gustave said, “OCFS is both excited and committed to help lead Governor Hochul’s mission to increase the number of high-quality, affordable child care programs that New York’s families deserve. LEAPS grants offer an opportunity to reinvigorate existing after-school programs and fund new ones so that more school-age children have equitable access to these invaluable services. Research shows that young people who participate in these programs have higher school attendance, achieve greater academic success and are less likely to be at risk for exposure to harmful influences.”
The governor recently announced $50 million in capital grants for the construction or expansion of child care centers and registered school-age child care programs and $50 million in business tax credits for eligible businesses that create or expand infant and toddler child care seats for their employees directly or through a third-party. Those programs came on the heels of an expansion of the state Child Care Assistance Program in October 2023 that raised the income eligibility limit for child care assistance to the federal maximum – a move expected to help an additional 100,000 New York families.
LEAPS-funded programs will promote access to high-quality comprehensive after-school services with academic support and enrichment opportunities. The programs are also intended to mitigate ongoing impacts from the pandemic by expanding students’ access to social and emotional support services as well as offer mentorship and job- and life-skills training.
State-licensed school-age child care programs serving children in high-need school districts, and organizations interested in becoming a licensed provider, are eligible to apply for the grants. Information on applying for the grants can be found on the LEAPS page of the OCFS website.