The need for out-of-school time programs is clear: Research and practice demonstrate that quality out-of-school time programs keep youth safe, support working families, and provide critical learning, personal development, arts, and recreational opportunities.
However, universal definition of “quality out-of-school programs” has not always been evident. The diversity of the out-of-school time field allows young people to have valuable, varied experiences, which is important for our youth and the field. At the same time, a common understanding of “quality” is needed.
In Omaha, the out-of-school-time community has started to define our standards for quality. In 2012, Collective for Youth, in partnership with at least 60 metro area community partners, embarked on a process to create agreed upon quality standards for Omaha’s out of school time programs.
The following seven indicators are included in our working Quality Standards draft. Finalization of the draft is expected soon, and will be available for download here. If you’d like to learn more about our Quality Standards please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Programming and Activities – A quality program provides a variety of activities and opportunities that support the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive growth and development of all youth. Opportunities exist for youth to participate in planning, to exercise choice, and to engage in a variety of programs and activities
Interpersonal Relationships – A quality program develops, nurtures, and maintains positive relationships and interactions among all staff members, youth, families, and the community, while also celebrating culture and diversity.
Safety, Health, and Nutrition – A quality program promotes and protects the physical and emotional health, safety, and security of all youth.
Engagement: Children and Youth, Families, Schools and Communities – A high quality program must have partnership between families, schools, and the community for the development and success of children and youth.
Human Resources and Professional Development – The program supports the professional growth of culturally diverse, highly effective, ethical staff members and volunteers that are dedicated to creating a positive, developmentally appropriate, and supportive learning environment.
Administration and Management – An out of school time program will have strong administrative supports in place to run a high quality program. Administrative areas will include management support, policies and procedures, and program assessment.
Data Collection and Evaluation – A quality out of school time program has a system for collecting data and measuring outcomes, values, the evaluation process, and uses evaluation results for ongoing program planning and improvement.