Berk, M. & Moon, M.M. (2016). Effects of a Facilitated Fee Waiver Program on Participation in Youth Sports Programs. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 34(3).
Registration fees can be an economic barrier to participation in public youth sports programs. While some programs offer to waive the registration fee, many do not, and those that do require that parents provide income documentation during the registration process in order to obtain the waiver. This requirement may discourage waiver applications that, in turn, may reduce participation by low-income children. This article describes the results of a demonstration program that allowed parents to obtain a youth sports programs registration fee waiver through a simple request, without demonstrating need. The demonstration found that a “facilitated waiver program” had a dramatic effect on waiver applications; a twelvefold increase was observed. Waiver applications increased the most among children attending schools in low-income neighborhoods. Those who requested waivers had strong attendance records at games and practices in the programs, and parental support was also high. Despite the benefits of facilitated waivers, however, their use alone is not sufficient to overcome the range of economic barriers to participation in youth sports programs.