Public Policy Forum Blog

Access to quality afterschool programming varies throughout Milwaukee County

The Forum’s recent report on afterschool program quality – Reaching for the Stars – revealed that only 28% of the afterschool programs in Milwaukee County that had been evaluated by the state’s YoungStar system as of June 2013 had received quality ratings of 3 stars or higher, indicating proficient or high-quality programming. While a key question raised by the report is whether YoungStar’s criteria for evaluating afterschool programs may need to be recalibrated, the current ratings suggest there are limited opportunities for parents to choose high-quality programs for their children.

As a follow-up to our report, we thought it would be helpful to analyze the geographic distribution of highly rated afterschool programs to understand how accessible they are to area residents. Using data from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, we created an interactive map showing the locations of all 134 YoungStar-rated afterschool programs in Milwaukee County. Program names, addresses, and YoungStar ratings can be seen by hovering over the points on the map that indicate their locations.

Within the city of Milwaukee, the map shows a significant concentration of 3-star programs on the north side and a noticeable dearth of programs with ratings of 3 stars or higher on the northwest side. Also clearly visible is the county’s only program to achieve the highest possible YoungStar rating of 5 stars, which is a program operated by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee at Mitchell School on the city’s south side.

Only 23 YoungStar-rated afterschool programs in Milwaukee County are located outside the city of Milwaukee (17%) and among them, only one has achieved a rating of 3 stars. The general lack of YoungStar-rated afterschool programs in many Milwaukee County suburbs is likely because programs are only required to participate in YoungStar if they accept child care subsidies through the state’s Wisconsin Shares program. Many afterschool programs located outside of Milwaukee may not accept Wisconsin Shares subsidies and thus do not participate in YoungStar. As a result, the utility of YoungStar is limited for parents in those communities who are seeking information about program quality.

Overall, this map provides additional context for community leaders seeking to improve access to quality afterschool programming in Milwaukee County.

Please click here to access the interactive map.


Joe Peterangelo