Purpose of Afterschool Standards
The research is clear that children and youth participating in afterschool programs experience positive outcomes in all areas of development, and decreases in high risk behaviors. However, programs must be high quality in order for children and youth to benefit from them.
The purpose of the Indiana Afterschool Standards is to outline the path and specific steps that lead to quality programs, based on research and best practices in the education and youth development field. The Indiana standards are recommended, voluntary guidelines for:
- Afterschool providers – for self-assessment, measurement, accountability, and quality improvement; and to provide a shared framework for collaboration with others
- Funders and Policy Leaders –to link funding and accountability to research-based, measurable outcomes
- Parents and Families – to understand essential elements of high quality programs and to be able to advocate on behalf of their children and youth
Definition of Afterschool & Out-of-School Time
Afterschool is an inclusive term for youth development programming that occurs beyond the traditional school day, including before school, after school, holidays, weekends and summers. Afterschool programs are structured and offer a wide range of learning and enrichment activities that promote the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development of all children and youth.
Forward to Indiana Afterschool Standards
The Taskforce selected the National Afterschool Association standards as its primary framework, along with additions from the Council on Accreditation (COA), along with references regarding children with special needs. The Indiana rules and regulations for health and safety for school-age childcare are listed in Appendix A-1.
Rationale for selecting NAA and COA is as follows:
1. National Afterschool Association (NAA) Standards
- Reflect best practices from national youth development experts and organizations
- Realistic and attainable for programs of varying missions, sizes, budgets, and locations.
For more information and support materials: www.naa.org.
2. Council on Accreditation (COA) standards
- Highest level of program recognition
- Comprehensive best practices
- Effective in advancing quality
- Responsive to the unique needs and diversity of after school programs
For more information and support materials: www.coaafterschool.org.
3. Indiana Rules and Regulations
- Rule 4.6 – outlines the mandatory requirements for staffing, health, and safety for providers receiving state funding for school-age child care programs.
- Indiana Code 20-5-2-7 – outlines the mandatory requirements for criminal history background checks for school employees and contracted partner employees in school corporations.
The Indiana Afterschool Standards document recommends that afterschool providers abide by these rules in order to ensure the safety of all children and youth in their programs whether or not they are receiving state funding (Rule 4.6) or providing programs in a school (Code 20-5-2-7). See Appendix A for more information.
Note: A standard is different from a regulation, and typically reflects a higher level of practice. A standard or best practice is a method, process, or activity that is widely accepted as being the effective way of accomplishing a desired outcome, based on repeatable procedures that have proven themselves over time for large number of people. A regulation is typically a minimum set of requirements, in this case to ensure basic health and safety for children and youth (see #3 above).
Licensing and Accreditation for Afterschool Programs
The Indiana Afterschool Standards are voluntary best practice guidelines for quality improvement. Although there is a licensing body for Indiana child care centers, there is no state accreditation or licensing specifically for afterschool programs at this time. However, there are national accrediting organizations for summer and afterschool providers, and state funding available to cover expenses.
Note: Licensing typically requires meeting minimum health and safety requirements, while accreditation requires meeting higher levels of best practices.
Credentialing for Afterschool Professionals
Credentialing offers professional youth workers opportunities to learn and receive recognition for their knowledge, skills and ability, based on a set of core competencies. Indiana’s Youth Development Credential is administered by the Indiana YouthPRO Association. Visit www.indianayouthpro.org for more information and scholarship availability.
This special STEM addition to the Indiana Afterschool Standards outlines best practices and recommendations specific to STEM programming for K-12 youth in out-of-school time programs. In order to develop these specialty standards, the Indiana Afterschool Network convened a taskforce of STEM experts in education, business, and youth development. The taskforce researched standards and best practices throughout the nation and compiled these standards from many sources (see Sources section). Indiana is on the leading edge in developing STEM standards for out-of-school time programs.
This special College and Career Readiness addition to the Indiana Afterschool Standards outlines best practices and recommendations specific to college and career readiness programming for K-12 youth in out-of-school time programs. In order to develop these standards, the Indiana Afterschool Network convened a taskforce of College and Career experts in education, business, and youth development. The taskforce researched standards and best practices throughout the nation and compiled these standards from many sources (see Partners and Sources sections). Indiana is on the leading edge in developing college and career readiness standards for out-of-school time programs.
This special Summer Learning addition to the Indiana Afterschool Standards outlines best practices and recommendations specific to high quality summer programming for K-12 youth. In order to develop these standards, the Indiana Afterschool Network and partners researched standards and best practices throughout the nation and compiled these standards from many sources (see Sources section).