Policy & Advocacy

We impact policy so that all Washington youth have equitable access to expanded learning.

School’s Out Washington is a leading voice for equitable and high-quality expanded learning opportunities in Washington state. We advocate for policies and funding that elevate the entire field of youth development while centering the needs of BIPOC youth and others furthest from educational justice.


The issues

Young people deserve public policies that support their growth, learning, and unique needs—all day, and all year.  While the expanded learning ecosystem is multifaceted, the SOWA advocacy team is focused on these specific areas of youth development:

The facts about expanded learning

Quality expanded learning programs amplify classroom-based instruction, build critical life and career skills, improve academic performance, and inspire young people to discover their passions. They are part of a “youth development approach” that focuses on supportive services and enrichment opportunities that are designed to  meet young people where they are at—physically, academically, socially, and emotionally.  

Through research and community input, we know that no single learning setting can prepare young people for success. Rather, an integrated approach to learning throughout the day and throughout the year is what young people need from the systems they navigate. 

For research on expanded learning, check out our partners at the Afterschool Alliance, the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST), the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), and the Wallace Foundation’s afterschool and summer webpages.

Working together for expanded learning and youth development

SOWA co-leads The Youth Development Strategy Table, a coalition of advocacy groups, community-based organizations, and public agencies across the state of Washington. Together, we’re building an advocacy strategy that creates space for the diversity of the expanded learning and youth development sectors, while working together with a unified voice for funding to increase access and drive youth program quality.  

2021 state legislative policy priorities

SOWA encourages policy makers at all levels—city, county, in Olympia, and in D.C.—to become champions for youth programming that is engaging, high-quality, and responsive to community needs. 

Improve the Learning Assistance Program (LAP)

Ensuring student success requires strong partnerships between school, families, and the community. LAP boosts academic and social-emotional supports for Washington youth—especially for youth in poverty and youth of color. SOWA and our partners in the Youth Development Strategy Table are pushing for several improvements to LAP so that it targets youth who need it most and increases school-community partnerships. 

Learn more

Protect funding for youth development

Expanded learning and youth development professionals provide essential academic and social-emotional learning supports for young people. These programs regularly face inadequate funding to pay staff living wages and benefits. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they are also putting  themselves at risk to work with youth in-person while many schools remain closed. Protecting the small, but essential funding streams for expanded learning and youth development programs is even more critical.

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Support for school-age child care

School-age child care is a vital expanded learning opportunity that supports academic growth and social-emotional learning for children ages five through 12. Most school-age child care programs have been open throughout the pandemic with staff earning less than school-day teachers, aides, and staff. In order to sustain this field and support their essential worker status, we are calling on lawmakers to approve the requests for the 2021-23 biennium. 

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Amplify school-community partnerships

A student’s ability to be successful happens in and beyond the classroom. Access to additional learning time, social-emotional skill building, and basic needs support is critical. This session, SOWA and our partners seek legislation to encourage school and community partnerships related to early learning, K-12, and post-secondary pathways. Our state, district, and community partners have numerous tools to support students. When we work together, these tools become more effective and dynamic to meet student needs. 

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Drive new revenue

Cuts to programs that support children and families will not only set our state back but will also hurt the economy. New and modernized revenue sources are needed to ensure our state is strong for all Washingtonians—especially children and youth. 

Learn more
Get involved

Join the Youth Development Strategy Table
The Youth Development Strategy Table is a coalition of public and non-profit stakeholders working to establish a focused state level youth development effort to sustain early learning gains, improve academic and social-emotional outcomes, and prevent deep end system involvement. Learn more at https://ydstrategy.org


Send us an email: advocacy@schoolsoutwashington.org

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Every other Wednesday!
(9:30 AM—10:00 AM)

Youth Development Legislative Update bi-weekly meetings

3/24, 4/7, 4/21

Join via Zoom
Meeting ID: 857 0404 1984
Passcode: 848197

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