Quality Standards

The Children’s Trust After-School and Summer Camp Standards

Preamble: These program standards are presented as a framework for organizing our evolving vision of how to create the optimal conditions for learning and growth in our after-school and summer camp programs. They represent a combination of perspectives including the input of many stakeholder groups-parents, children, agency administrators and staff, as well as school and community leaders. These Standards are intended to serve as the basis for future planning and training and are subject to change as our understanding of the needs of our children changes. We look forward to your continued input and participation in this quality improvement effort.

Health and Safety Essentials:

  1. Health policy is communicated to parents
  2. Environment is designed for safety
  3. Arrivals and departures are carefully monitored
  4. Meals, snacks, and beverages are healthy and nourishing
  5. Hygiene is emphasized

Social Relationship Essentials:

  1. Staff make children feel welcome and valued
  2. Staff show respect for children
  3. Staff listen to and talk with children
  4. Staff closely monitor, supervise and/or coach children
  5. Program staff make parents and children aware of their discipline policy
  6. Staff model, teach, and encourage healthy social behavior and intervene to prevent bullying or antisocial acts among youth
  7. Program staff reach out and share information with parents about their child and the program
  8. Staff are professional in their preparation, training, and communications and serve as models of positive social interaction for children

Staff Development Essentials:

  1. Program administration devotes time and resources to creating multiple opportunities for ongoing staff development
  2. Regular staff meetings are used to promote communication between staff and program administrators and other stakeholders (e.g., parents and youth)
  3. Staff participate in routine self-evaluation and receive performance feedback on a regularly scheduled basis

Activities Essentials:

  1. Activities are flexible, based on student interests and needs, permit choice and yield opportunities to create and learn new skills
  2. Activities are developmentally appropriate
  3. Programs balance academic enhancement, cultural, service learning, and life skills activities with recreational opportunities
  4. Staff actively assist children in learning and refining new skills
  5. Sufficient and varied materials are available and accessible

Inclusion Essentials:

  1. Program staff and administrators consult professionals to assist in planning programs and providing staff training relevant to the needs of children with disabilities
  2. Agency policies and practices increase opportunities for children with disabilities to participate in program activities, often through individualized plans for each child
  3. Staff provide multiple opportunities for children to practice important new skills, and whenever possible, incorporate practice opportunities into routines
  4. Staff allow children to flexibly engage in activities and when needed, allow children to participate in alternative activities. Agencies acquire whatever equipment and supplies are needed to ensure that children with disabilities may participate safely
  5. Staff endeavor to develop competencies needed to engage families and make appropriate referrals for children with disabilities
  6. Staff encourage improvements in communication skills in a developmentally-sensitive way, with special attention given to promoting social interaction with peers
  7. Staff provide necessary specialized services on-site, receive training in or contract for those intervention or assessment services needed, and are generally proactive in planning to promote inclusion

Program Structure Essentials:

  1. The program schedule is adhered to, but in a flexible way that balances structure and spontaneity
  2. Special activities are scheduled in advance and planned carefully
  3. Children are allowed to choose most activities and are encouraged to develop new interests
  4. Director and key administrative staff are fully responsible for program activities and meet routinely to resolve difficulties and make plans for improvement

Space and Furnishing Essentials:

  1. Program space is aesthetically pleasing and comfortable (well-ventilated, well-lit, etc.)
  2. Ample indoor and outdoor space is available for programs and activities
  3. Some space set aside for privacy and personal belongings (e.g., cubby, desk or locker)
  4. Program spaces permit easy supervision and allow for multiple and different activities to occur simultaneously
  5. Space is designed to accommodate the specific activities included in the program, and program materials are suited to their purpose (e.g., homework, relaxation, recreation)
  6. All materials and furnishings are well-maintained and clean
  7. Some space set aside for program administrators’ and staff’s personal belongings/needs
  8. After-school and summer camp programs have some space allocated for their exclusive use and storage of supplies and materials needed to fulfill programmatic goals

Effective Program Essentials:

  1. Identification of at least one peer-reviewed study documenting the effectiveness of the program components or methods utilized (e.g., math curriculum, fitness training program)
  2. Plausible rationale for any relevant local adaptation of standard effective program curriculum from other settings
  3. Staff have been trained in the adopted standard procedures or program components being utilized
  4. Fidelity of the program, or faithfulness to the stated model, is monitored regularly and maintained
  5. Program outcomes are monitored and examined in an ongoing manner