#ParentPriorities for Out-of-School Time (OST) Programs in DC

The Problem

In DC, not all kids have access to high-quality Out-of-School Time (OST) programs due to many significant barriers, including:

  • Cost,
  • Transportation,
  • Access to information,
  • Finding programs that interest their children,
  • And more.

Our Vision

Every family has access to a high-quality OST program for their children that supports their individual needs where they can explore their passions and enrich their learning – regardless of income level or where they live.

In order to make PAVE parent leaders' vision a reality, we have identified a set of solutions that we believe our DC leaders should work with communities and families to prioritize.

Foundational Policy Solutions for RIGHT NOW

    • Provide at least $25 million in recurring, local funding for OST programs and allocate based on performance-based evaluations to ensure quality. 
      • We are currently at $17 million in local funding and $5 million with one-time federal relief funds, so there is a gap of about $8 million in local dollars. 
      • Because federal funds are not as predictable and often more restrictive, we want to ensure local funding can support the need in the District. 
    • Provide dedicated funding for schools for before/after school, summer, and winter programs.
      • Dedicated funding should be differentiated based on the number of students, student need, grade level, etc.
      • Provide financial incentives for school teachers who are leading OST programs so they have the resources and are compensated for their time. 
  • Redesign cost structure and requirements for vouchers and financial aid. 
    • Adjust eligibility for aid based on cost of living in DC and inflation with the use of a sliding scale to provide equitable support.
    • Eliminate barriers to financial aid based on documentation status and student age.
    • Share the voucher and financial aid opportunities and requirements widely in different forms of communication and in ways that are language accessible. 
  • The federal and local funding sources must be transparent and publicly accessible with independent oversight and accountability structures.  
  • The funding should support fair pay and professional development for OST staff.
  • This should include: 
    • Defining what a high-quality OST program looks like and metrics for evaluation.
    • An updated needs assessment to identify existing program gaps/needs, and looking at both location and program type. 
    • Identify opportunities for public-private partnership programs. 
    • Innovative and consistent engagement with families to determine the types of programs they want in their ward and community. 
      • This engagement should explicitly include a diverse representation of students and families with special needs, who are English Language Learners, and other groups who are often excluded from decision-making and planning. 
    • Working with OST providers to understand what they need to expand (i.e. increased number of seats, new locations, offer additional types of programming, etc.). 
    • Working with schools to ensure they have resources and policies in place to host programs, including staff capacity, space, etc.). 
    • The community-driven plan should look to other cities and states as examples for what works well with OST. 
  • The strategic plan should be used to inform allocation of funding and resources and other policies needed to expand access to OST.

Long-Term Policy Solutions: 

  • Create partnerships with surrounding vocational/trade programs, colleges, and universities to offer year-round leadership development, academic support, enrichment, and training programs to DC students. 
    • These partnerships should be built with teachers, parents, and students.
  • Expand mentorship programs (Higher Achievement, Capital City Mentorship Programs, REACH, Inc., etc.)
  • Create a community of practice to offer all publicly-funded OST programs with resources and training on social emotional learning (SEL), cultural competency, trauma-informed training, anti-racist practices, and best practices for engaging with families. 
    • This training should be dynamic and have follow up sessions to teach staff to best support their individual students’ needs. 
    • Example: There is a community of practice for school staff and school-based mental health professionals in DC that could serve as a model. 
  • Create a certification program that demonstrates which OST programs have staff trained in respective areas. 
  • Provide training for all publicly-funded OST program staff to support students with disabilities. 
  • Create pilot programs:
    • Where a dedicated aid would follow students that need extra support regardless of program.
    • Transportation included in the IEP extends to OST programs.
  • Develop a data system to support information-sharing of students’ IEPs with program providers (with parents’ consent) so support can be incorporated into OST programming.
  • Create a community advisory group to give feedback on improvements for Learn 24. 
    • This should include OST providers, students, and parents/caregivers. 
  • Implement an information-sharing campaign about the importance of OST programs, what programs are available, and what resources are available. 
    • Bring in education and community stakeholders (parents, PTA, LSAT, school leaders, caregivers, etc.) in the designing of the information sharing campaign. 
  • Create an annual fair for OST programs that shares descriptions of programs, purpose, skills/goals, etc. 

Support Parent Leaders’ Vision for OST Programs!