In 1997, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that more than 28 million school-age children have parents who work outside the home. In an April 2000 letter from Attorney General Janet Reno and Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, they estimate that at least 5 million “latchkey” children come home to empty houses.  Today millions of children return to an empty home after school. When school bells ring, the anxiety for parents often just begins. They worry about whether their children are safe and whether they are susceptible to drugs and crime. In response to this pressing concern, many communities have created after-school programs to keep children and youth out of trouble and engaged in activities that help them learn.


  • 28% of U.S. children live with a single working parent or two working parents.
  • 78% of mothers with 6-13 year olds work full-time.
  • 35% of school-age children are left on their own after school from the time they are twelve.
  • More than 15 million children are unsupervised from 3-8 pm; during these hours violent juvenile crime triples.
  • Children in self-care or under the care of siblings experience greater fear of accidents and crimes.
  • Children without supervision are more bored, more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors and drug and alcohol use, and are more often the victims of accidents and abuse.

Mentoring helps young people, especially at-risk youth, succeed

  • More than three quarters (76 percent) of at-risk young adults who had a mentor aspire to enroll in and graduate from college versus half (56 percent) of at-risk young adults who had no mentor.
  • At-risk young adults with mentors are also more likely to be enrolled in college than those without a mentor (45 percent of all at-risk youth with a mentor are enrolled in some type of postsecondary education as opposed to 29 percent of at-risk youth who are enrolled but never had a mentor).
  • At-risk young adults with a mentor are more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities (67 percent of at-risk youth with mentors compared to 37 percent of those without them).
  • At-risk young adults with a mentor are more likely to hold a leadership position in a club, sports team, school council, or another group (51 percent versus 22).
  • At-risk young adults with a mentor are more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities (48 percent versus 27).

Availability of Mentors

  • One in three young people do not have a mentor. The rates are even higher for at-risk youth.
  • Nationwide - approximately 16 million youth, including 9 million at-risk youth, will graduate high school without ever having a mentor.
  • The mentoring needs of youth who demonstrate the early signs of falling off track to graduate are not being fully met.