Who Needs Out-of-School-Time Services?
The simplest answer is that all children can benefit from expanded learning, be it after-school programs, summer camps, athletic activities, tutoring or art-enrichment projects.
Out-of-School-Time is about more than keeping children busy after school and during the summer months. Research and educators agree that quality OST programs can play a huge role in helping children develop the kinds of academic, social and behavioral skills that lead to future success as an adult.
Benefits to Children and Communities
Children and communities benefit from OST programs and they are vitally important because:
- Students spend 75% of their time outside of traditional school.
Today, many families have two working parents and children are increasingly spending large amounts of time alone and unsupervised. The number of hours spent alone is a critical factor in an increase in high-risk behaviors and problems, whether the family is poor or not. These unoccupied hours present a real problem for parents and communities but also offer the opportunity to extend the time we have for educating our children in creative and engaging ways that can contribute to their present and future success.
- Studies suggest that communities save $3 for every $1 invested in OST programs.
A 2001 evaluation of California’s state afterschool program revealed that the state was likely to save $11 million that year because fewer students would be held back in school. Schools in Manchester, NH estimate savings of more than $72,000 over three years because students participating in afterschool programs avoided being held back a grade or being placed in special education. (U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice, 1998). Effective after-school programs save between $1.87 to $5.29 for every $1 spent because participants commit fewer crimes.
- 30% of Juvenile crime occurs between 3-7pm
The dangers that can accompany living in poverty make facing the out-of-school hours unsupervised even more hazardous for many of our most vulnerable children. OST programs can be seen at as an effective intervention strategy for keeping our children safe and away from high-risk and destructive behaviors and influences – delinquent activity, alcohol and drug use, etc. Effective OST program can be a critical factor in helping to change the direction for youth most at risk.
- OST Programs have shown to increase school attendance and high school graduation rates while decreasing teen pregnancy and teen crime.
School failure can lead to social, emotional and behavioral problems. Many researchers and educators believe that educational success is fundamental to becoming a healthy and productive adult citizen. Quality out-of-school-time programs don’t just prevent risky behavior; they promote attitudes and skills that are essential for a successful adult future.
The Need for a Coordinating Intermediary
The best way to preserve the value of the community’s investment in school readiness and early school literacy is by investing in quality OST programs, and the expansion of opportunity in our community can only come through making quality OST programs available to all of our children.
Without an intermediary to maintain quality standards, to evaluate and rate programs against those standards, to accredit training for the professional development of OST staff, and to provide the public with information about available programs, access to quality OST programs will remain a disorganized, hit-or-miss proposition for families in our community, rather than the effective institutional public good their children need and deserve.
That intermediary role can help to support city- and county-wide out-of-school time efforts and develop long-term support for an out-of-school time system. And in tough economic times, an intermediary agency can help a community make the best possible use of all resources and provide a structure that facilitates efforts to combine resources and streamline programs.
OST and the Council’s Recent Role
In 2012, Council for Children’s Rights agreed to take on the task of Out-of School-Time (OST) coordination to keep this work moving forward. For the next few years, Council facilitated an assessment of community needs and the development of tools and programs in response as first steps toward the goal of a more permanent home in the community for this work. Most recently, the Council led the creation of agreed upon OST.QualityStandards, delivered the interactive, web-based program locator, and developed a series of 10 professional development sessions for OST professionals.
Funding for the Council’s OST incubation work expires on June 30. There is a great deal of consensus in our community about the need for an intermediary to champion the work of OST programs, but we have not yet found anybody willing to carry the work forward or to fund its continuation. Time is running out.
The Future of OST in Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Charlotte is one of the largest cities in America to lack a centralized organization that supports and advocates for the importance of OST programs. Other cities have merged existing organizations or created new ones to fill the OST gaps in their communities.
While the capacities and scope of the work of these organizations vary widely, they all advocate for increasing the number and quality of OST programs in their communities and work to build systems level infrastructure to support their work.
Without a strong, permanent intermediary home for OST, Charlotte is losing out on potential millions of dollars from large foundations who are interested in OST work but who are looking for a strong organization and local support before awarding funds.
Charlotte is home to approximately 512 unique Out of School Time (OST) programs operated by 76 providers, and serving 60,000 students. Many of these can be found by using our OST Program Locator.
A visual snapshot of the case for OST programs and the assessment of community needs and requests.
An agreed upon list of best practices to promote positive outcomes and focus on quality improvement.
You Can Help
To learn more and to find out how you can help, contact Greg Schermbeck, Director of Education Initiatives, at firstname.lastname@example.org.