Bringing Education to After-School Programs - Summer 1999

A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Strong, Safe, Disciplined, and Drug-Free Schools and After-School Programs

Background. Schools must provide a safe and drug-free environment if students are to learn effectively. The Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program supports a number of initiatives designed to ensure schools are free of drugs and violence and the unauthorized presence of firearms and alcohol and offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning.

Research suggests that drug use and violence among youth are particularly prevalent during the hours between the end of the regular school day and the end of the work day when many children are unsupervised. After-school programs can offer a natural extension of a comprehensive drug and violence prevention strategy by providing a safe haven and promoting the development of social skills that help to prevent drug use and violence.

How to integrate activities to keep children safe and drug free into after-school programs. A recent survey of after-school programs shows that the most important items voters would like to see after-school programs provide for children include getting them off the street, providing a safe place to go, structured supervision, and discipline. Many kinds of activities can work toward these goals. Preventive services that are provided on an on-going basis and include student support services appear to be the most effective. Approaches that teach children how to resist and deal with powerful social influences for using drugs and those that correct misperceptions of peer drug use have the greatest potential for making a difference for students. While many prevention programs are held during the regular school day, many practitioners believe that the nonclassroom-based activities often found in an after-school setting ? student assistance programs, community service, student support groups, individual counseling, group counseling, mentoring projects, conflict mediation, assemblies, and drug-free school events and dances ? are as or more important for long lasting results. Activities associated with lower drug use include sports and exercise, volunteer work, and spending more than two hours per day on homework. Each of these activities can be integrated into a quality after-school program. Greater drug use is associated with more time spent on watching television and playing videogames, activities that many children not in an after-school program do in their out-of-school hours.

Project SAFE being implemented by the Starkville, Mississippi School District is a comprehensive approach to creating a safe and orderly learning environment. The approach is to develop protective factors in students while minimizing risk factors through daily involvement in the arts?visual, music, dance, and drama. The arts are integrated into the curriculum via a multi-sensory approach of interdisciplinary teaching. In addition to the arts, Starkville is also operating an eight-week after-school program along with a summer school and Saturday special events program. Participants are also paired with community mentors and participate in a community service effort. Families are also deemed to be an important link to the school community. A Family Center, housed in the school, will provide support to parents as well as conduct special monthly activities. Parents are actively recruited to participate and encouraged to become an active participant in the school community. The community also plays a critical role in the project with the coordination of existing efforts among local civic, religious, law enforcement, and government agencies and services.

The national goal of preparing all children to read at grade level by the end of third grade is very much in line with the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program?s goals of providing a variety of academic and enrichment activities to students and parents in the communities which they serve. Examples of how your Center can help include:



As you think about organizing and implementing your after-school program with an emphasis in keeping students safe and drug-free, some materials available on the U.S. Department of Education?s website: can be useful to you:

  • 1998 Annual Report on School Safety
  • Applying Effective Strategies
  • Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents
  • Creating Safe Schools: A Resource Collection for Planning and Action
  • Growing Up Drug Free: A Parent?s Guide to Prevention

If you would like hard copies or if the electronic version is not yet accessible, you can order these materials by calling 1-877-4ED-PUBS, or order on-line by going to


U.S. Department of Education programs and keeping schools safe and drug-free. The Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program is the federal government's primary vehicle for reducing drug, alcohol and tobacco use, and violence, through education and prevention activities in our nation's schools. These initiatives are designed to prevent violence in and around schools, and strengthen programs that prevent the illegal use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, involve parents, and are coordinated with related federal, state and community efforts and resources.

The Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program consists of two major programs: State Grants for Drug and Violence Prevention Programs and National Programs. State Grants is a formula grant program that provides funds to state and local education agencies, as well as to Governors, for a wide range of school- and community-based education and prevention activities. National Programs carries out a variety of discretionary initiatives that respond to emerging needs. Among these are direct grants to school districts and communities with severe drug and violence problems, program evaluation, and information development and dissemination.

Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act formula grant funds may be used to support before and after school recreational, instructional, cultural, and artistic programs that encourage drug and violence-free lifestyles, as well as used to provide safety and security for after-school programs. Persons managing after-school programs are encouraged to work with their school districts to identify ways in which the after-school and regular school day programs can be linked. Discretionary grants from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program frequently support before and after-school activities that are part of a comprehensive strategy to create safe and orderly learning environments.

Other Safe and Drug-Free Schools initiatives have focused on improving academic achievement, particularly in at-risk youth, through after-school programs that use volunteer mentors recruited from community organizations including institutions of higher education and local businesses.


Contact and Other Sources of Information

Program Director: William Modzeleski, Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE)



Fax: (202) 260-7767

For more information, contact:
Bryan Williams, Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program
(202) 260-2391.


[ The Arts and After-School Programs ]
[ Table of Contents ]
[ Parent Involvement in After-School Programs ]

Last Updated -- August 30, 1999, (glc)