The Florida Standards for Quality Afterschool Programs define the core principles and best practices that lead to the delivery of quality programming for children and youth in afterschool programs. The Standards provide a framework for the development of a caring, dynamic, stimulating and safe afterschool environment for children and youth. Research-based outcomes for such afterschool programs include: children and youth who are connected and engaged; parents who feel their children are safe and secure; and families who have a sense of pride and ownership of the program.
The Florida Afterschool Network, which led the development of the Standards, recognizes that each afterschool program is unique with varying missions and philosophies, and that they serve wide and diverse populations, ethnicities, age ranges, interests and values. The Standards are not intended to dictate policy and practice. They are intended to suggest and offer a strong foundation for quality programming.
The standards are organized in seven (7) categories.
- Administration and Organization
- Program Management and Staff
- Communication and Interaction
- Program Structure and Activities
- Health, Safety and Nutrition
- Program Environment
- Family and Community Involvement
Each of the seven categories begins with a guiding principle that defines the intent of the category, followed by the quality standards which indicate quality afterschool programming. The standards are broad-based, allowing for, encouraging and celebrating the uniqueness of each program.
As part of the development process, Florida Afterschool Network recognized the value of obtaining input from those who directly provide afterschool services. Five (5) regional workshops were held and over 60 practitioners attended. Each proposed standard was discussed and revisions to initial drafts were made. Because the review process involved thorough input and deliberation, Florida Afterschool Network is convinced that the standards represent the best thinking in the field and clearly outline what a quality program looks like.
Implementation is voluntary. Florida Afterschool Network hopes the standards are of such value that programs will want to implement some or all of the standards. Florida Afterschool Network envisions parents and guardians utilizing the document as a guide or tool when selecting an afterschool program for their children.
Quality Programs Make a Difference
Students who attend quality afterschool programs perform better on tests, show greater gains in scores and positive shifts in proficiency. Learn more by reading the Taking a Deeper Dive into Afterschool: Positive Outcomes and Promising Practices report published by the Afterschool Alliance.
The University of Florida’s evaluation of Florida’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers found that students who attend a minimum of 12 hours of afterschool per week have consistently higher math and reading scores on standardized tests. Read the report here.
Recent studies showcasing the benefits of afterschool in the latest reports published by the Afterschool Alliance.
The Afterschool Alliance also provide data about the behaviors of children immediately following school. To learn more check out the American After 3PM study.
Florida Grade Level Reading Campaign
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and a life of active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on an important predictor of school success and high school graduation: grade-level reading by the end of third grade.
Research shows that proficiency in reading by the end of third grade enables students to shift from learning to read to reading to learn and to master the more complex subject matter they encounter in the fourth grade curriculum. Most students who fail to reach this critical milestone falter in the later grades and often drop out before earning a high school diploma. Yet two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders are not proficient readers, according to national reading assessment data. This disturbing statistic is made even worse by the fact that more than four out of every five low-income students miss this critical milestone.
Although schools must be accountable for helping all children achieve, providing effective teaching for all children in every classroom every day, the Campaign is based on the belief that schools cannot succeed alone. Engaged communities mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities and assist parents in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities to serve as full partners in the success of their children are needed to assure student success.
The Barbara Bush Foundation is focused on advocacy for and establishing literacy as a value in every home. Literacy is a right that provides equal opportunity to achieving the American dream, which every child deserves. If we help the nation’s precious children get on the path to learning in the earliest years, even before they enter kindergarten, they are far more likely to succeed in school and life.
Educational Partners like PBS and WFSU bring teachers and afterschool program providers resources for grades K-12 over 10 subjects including professional development. These resources are designed with state and national standards.