Abstract: We study the unintended effects of a “Kids Club” after school program (ASP) that introduced free adult supervision for after-school care to eligible families in Chile. We use experimental variation in children’s access to this new ASP to study the impacts on children’s grades and school attendance, outcomes that were not specifically targeted by the ASP. While the ASP had no average impact on these academic outcomes, we find heterogeneous treatment effects related to the nature of counterfactual care. Children randomized into the ASP had higher school attendance and higher grades if, initially, they were not supervised by a parent at baseline. The largest positive impacts on school outcomes were found for children who at baseline spent after-school hours at home alone. For this group of counterfactually unsupervised children, the ASP’s effect on student attendance persisted one year after ASP enrollment. Our findings suggest that governments may want to consider criteria related to counterfactual care arrangements when designing eligibility rules for public ASPs.
Keywords: Childcare, Randomized control trial, After-school programs
JEL classification: J13, I25