October 12, 2010; Source: Kansascity.com | It’s after 3 p.m. Do you know where your children are? If you are a parent in rural America, then the chances are pretty slim your children are in afterschool programs. A new report from the nonprofit Afterschool Alliance finds that just one out 10 rural schoolchilden take part in formal afterschool programs. Nationally the average percentage of children in these programs is 15 percent. Urban children have the highest participation rates: 18 percent, followed by suburban kids at 13 percent.

“This new data is alarming because it demonstrates that nearly 3 million rural children in this country are missing out on the educational, enriching activities that afterschool programs provide,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. Among the reasons cited for low participation rates in rural afterschool programs is their limited availability. However, like parents in urban and suburban communities, lack of transportation is also a problem.

The report also compared costs of afterschool programs in rural, urban and suburban communities. Rural programs cost the least, about $47 a week per child, while urban and suburban programs cost virtually the same, $69 and $67 respectively.—Bruce Trachtenberg