High-quality Out of School Time (OST) programs benefit working families and low-income neighborhoods by providing safe, structured places for children while their parents work. Learning opportunities complement and reinforce the lessons of the school day. Enrichment opportunities help youth explore the world around them. Physical fitness and recreational activities keep youth healthy. High-quality OST programs have a positive impact on academic achievement for children and youth. Further, OST programming is preventative in that youth who are supervised during the hours of 3:00 - 6:00 pm are less likely to engage in alcohol and drug use, risky sex and delinquent behaviors. Finally, OST programming provides opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating which contributes to a healthy lifestyle and increased knowledge about nutrition and exercise.
While surveys of parents and families demonstrate clear preferences towards school-based OST programs, community-based OST programs provide significant benefits to at-risk and low-income children, youth and families. By operating in neighborhoods and communities where many low-income families live and work, community-based OST programs make it easier for working families to coordinate work schedules and other logistics. The programs also typically have ongoing enrollment processes, affordable rates and flexible attendance policies, which offer peace of mind to working families that deal with ever-changing demands on their work-life balance. Additionally, community-based OST programs are open to low- to middle- income families who send their children to private schools and are unable to access programs located at SFUSD school sites.
Attendance data and anecdotal evidence show that both school- and community-based OST programs serve families with limited access to affordable healthcare, housing and food, and those who may be facing issues related to substance abuse, mental health and food insecurity. Having a safe, accessible and affordable program to which they can bring their children allows parents and families to feel a sense of safety and stability that otherwise may be missing from their home environments. In short, this service area provides a “safety net” for youth and families living in the highest-need neighborhoods in the city.
OST programs also address the academic needs of children and youth. National data shows that summer learning loss, the phenomenon where young people lose academic skills over the summer, is one of the most significant causes of the achievement gap between lower and higher income youth, and one of the strongest contributors to the high school dropout rate. High-quality, structured OST programs that offer summer programming may help mitigate these losses by providing a time for youth to practice academic skills learned during the school year and expand upon them, thus helping youth to be prepared and engaged when school starts again.
DCYF's OST service area strategies include:
If you have any questions or require additional information about our Out of School Time Service Area, please call 415-554-8990 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.