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Organizations in Out-of-School Time: An Introduction
Harvard Family Research Project
The out-of-school time field has grown rapidly over the past decade, with a constant influx of new voices and approaches. Following is a summary, but far from a complete review of organizations active in out-of-school time, grouped by topical area. This review draws upon HFRP's extensive mapping of the after school field. Inclusion here should not be taken as an organizational endorsement.
Founded by Michelle Seligson twenty years ago, the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST, formerly the School-Age Care Project) at Wellesley was one of the first organizations to draw national attention to the need for school-age care and enrichment. NIOST has been involved with several pioneering national out-of-school time initiatives including the DeWitt-Wallace MOST Initiative in Boston, Chicago, and Seattle, and the Save the Children rural school-age care project. Though Seligson left NIOST last year to work on other school-age care related projects at Wellesley, the Institute continues to serve the out-of-school time community by offering training and policy workshops and disseminating information on out-of-school time research. The National School Age Care Alliance (NSACA), headquartered in Boston, grew out of discussions facilitated by NIOST in 1987. With state affiliate alliances in more than forty states, NSACA is primarily a professional organization for out-of-school time care providers and has devoted considerable time to the issue of quality in school-age care by focusing on practitioner training and program accreditation. Recently, NSACA has strengthened its advocacy focus at the national level, pledging to commit greater resources to advancing the school-age care agenda through federal policy. The Children’s Defense Fund is actively involved in lobbying for support for school-age care, along with child care and Head Start funding, at the national level. Youth development-oriented organizations, including the American Youth Policy Forum, is organizing forums and field trips to inform the policy-making community about school-age programs, and the International Youth Foundation, is currently developing a policy framework to support out-of-school time efforts. The Children’s Aid Society is working on strengthening the link between public school and community organizations in out-of-school time. Other organizations with an interest in community schools, such as the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Coalition for Community Schools, have also emerged as advocates of out-of-school time care and enrichment activities. The recently developed Afterschool Alliance brings together the J.C. Penney Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and other partners to draw greater national attention to out-of-school time issues.
In the past ten years, several major private, public, and private/public partnership national initiatives have been launched to promote out-of-school time care and enrichment. The Carnegie Foundation was pivotal in drawing attention to school-age care with its 1992 report, A Matter of Time: Risk and Opportunity in the Non-School Hours. The DeWitt-Wallace Reader’s Digest Foundation (DWRD) funded the MOST Initiative, beginning in 1994, to help three cities - Boston, Chicago, and Seattle - to create and implement plans to meet school-age care needs in their communities. DWRD has continued to promote the field through funding efforts, including a 1999 grant to the Washington, D.C.-based Finance Project, which has compiled information on funding sources for out-of-school time programs and explored creative funding strategies to promote the sustainability of the field. Some of the Finance Project’s work on funding sources has been utilized by www.afterschool.gov. The www.afterschool.gov website is a virtual partnership, bringing together several federal agencies to provide a one-stop site for programs seeking public resources for school-age programs. The website reflects heightened interest in out-of-school time at the federal level. During the Clinton administration, several important public initiatives in out-of-school time have been announced. Perhaps the best known of these is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Initiative (21st CCLC), which provides funding for school-based programs. The 21st CCLC Initiative is the product of a historic public/private partnership between the U.S. Department of Education and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The U.S. Department of Justice has also been active in the out-of-school time field, overseeing its own initiatives like JUMP, partnering with the Department of Health and Human Services on the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative, and providing private organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of America with funds to run school-age programs in local communities. An early public leader in school-age care was the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which created its own school-age care initiative in the early 1990's, including the National Network for Child Care, and provides out-of-school time enrichment for older children and youths through the National 4-H Program. One of the largest single federal funding source available for school-age care is the Child Care and Development Block Grant presided over by the Department of Health and Human Services, which can be used by states for the care of children up to the age of thirteen. The Department of Health and Human Services also disseminates information on school-age care through its National Child Care Information Center, and has been active in helping states to use child care to help their citizens make the transition from welfare to workfare. The connection between school-age care and parents’ ability to work has involved organizations interested in workfare like the Welfare Information Network, and employers’ organizations more broadly construed are beginning to take an interest in out-of-school time care for their employees. The involvement of business in the out-of-school field as for-profit service providers should not be overlooked. Examples of for-profit school-age care and enrichment providers include Voyager Expanded Learning and Bright Horizons.
Local and State Level
National-level professional associations for local and state government officials, including the National League of Cities, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the National Governors’ Association, have helped to mobilize support for out-of-school time efforts. NGA launched a major survey of state out-of-school time activities earlier this year, and the National Council of State Legislators highlighted out-of-school time at its July 2000 national meeting. Increasingly, states are taking an interest in out-of-school time, and a number of states have either initiated statewide school-age care initiatives - like California’s Healthy Start Program - or established organizations that help coordinate out-of-school time activities across the state, like New Hampshire’s PlusTime. In New York, the After School Corporation, established in 1998 with Soros Foundation funds, has worked to increase the availability of quality after-school programs. Citywide coordinating organizations are also developing to enhance the capacity of programs at the local level, including the Partnership for After School Education in New York City, the Boston 2:00 to 6:00 Initiative established by Mayor Menino in Boston, and the D.C. Agenda/Children and Youth Investment Partnership in the nation’s capital. The largest citywide organizations boast millions of dollars in funding and some are working to develop models for partnership and program practices that can be replicated in other cities. Some of these city organizations represent substantial collaboration between public and private entities. Funding from local and regional foundations is also a key source of support for many local programs, and local funders’ organizations, like the Coalition of Community Foundations for Youth, are working to connect local funders with resources related to funding out-of-school programs.
A number of organizations have been active in training and development in the school-age care and enrichment field. NIOST has conducted a variety of training and policy workshops and has a network of training associates and quality advisors nationwide. NSACA has also been active in both training and accreditation practices. The 40 developmental assets model created by the Search Institute has been highly influential in development of out-of-school program practice and evaluation and the Institute has worked to provide technical assistance and resources to out-of-school time programs. The National Center on Community Education and the National Community Education Association have served as key providers of training and technical assistance in the out-of-school time field, notably for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Initiative. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has taken on the task of improving the skills and knowledge needed for out-of-school time providers to integrate science, mathematics, and technology into their curricula. The Academy for Educational Development is working on development of a best practices network to support out-of-school time efforts, and held a “Dialogue on Promising Practices in After School" conference in January 2000. The Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement is working to bridge the gap between theory and community-based practice in school-age care and enrichment. The North Central Regional Education Laboratory is currently developing a training video with WGBH in Boston to help out-of-school practitioners identify best practices for working with schools to provide children and their families with better services.
In addition to the best practices work outlined above, a number of organizations are contributing to the out-of-school time field in the areas of evaluation and research. The 1993 National Study of Before and After-School Programs, prepared as a report to the Office of Policy and Planning of the U.S. Department of Education by RMC Research Corporation, NIOST, and Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., was one of the first major contributions to knowledge about the state of out-of-school time care in the United States. The National Center for Education Statistics has continued to provide periodic information on out-of-school program participation demographics, and is currently working on statistics for the 1999-2000 academic year. Olatokunbo Fashola of the Center for Research on the Education of Students At Risk, located at Johns Hopkins and Howard Universities, summarized early research on outcomes in out-of-school care and enrichment in an important 1998 report, and CRESPAR has continued to research issues related to school-community partnerships and parental involvement. Deborah Vandell, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and other individual academic researchers - a number of whom have been funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development - have helped to build knowledge about the relation of out-of-school programs to healthy child development and children’s broader social environments. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation compiled much important research on out-of-school in its Fall 1999 volume of The Future of Children entitled, “When School is Out." The Board on Children, Youth and Families of the National Academy of Sciences is undertaking a study that is examining community-level program for youth. This work includes reviewing and synthesizing existing evidence about community-based youth development programs, assessing strengths and limitations of indicators and data sources and evaluation methodologies in this area, and developing a unified conceptual framework and research agenda. California Tomorrow is working on a two-year field-research project to identify major issues relating to access and equity in the out-of-school time field and to promote knowledge development around these issues. The Chapin Hall Center for Children has explored the issue of school connection in relation to out-of-school time, and has served as the evaluator for the MOST Initiative. Policy Studies Associates, Aguirre International, and Public/Private Ventures have overseen the evaluation of several other major out-of-school time initiatives. Mathematica is the head evaluator for the 21st CCLC Initiative, while Westat has managed collection of more general information about 21st CCLC grantees. Harvard Family Research Project is currently developing a database of evaluations in the out-of-school time field and will explore evaluation and research in out-of-school time in an upcoming edition of its newsletter, the Evaluation Exchange.
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