Over the years, quality afterschool programs have emerged across the state from a diverse array of providers using a variety of models.
As part of our efforts to improve the quality of afterschool programs in our state, the Oklahoma Afterschool Network is introducing the High Quality stamp for programs implementing the Oklahoma Afterschool Quality Standards (OAQS) and assessing their work using the Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) tool. The stamp sends a strong message to parents and the community about a program’s commitment to high quality and to continuous improvement.
These initial Oklahoma Afterschool Quality Standards are the result of a collaborative effort to support all programs serving school-age children and youth during their out-of-school hours. Because afterschool professionals from around the state developed these standards based on solid national research, providers can feel confident that following them will result in high quality programs, funders can know they are supporting organizations with the highest impact possible and parents can be assured that their children are in safe, nurturing environments focused on providing expanded educational opportunities and guidance in healthy lifestyle choices.
THE NEED FOR QUALITY PROGRAMS IS EVIDENT
Across Oklahoma, 29 percent of school-age children are on their own after school, spending an average of nine hours per week unsupervised. The hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are the peak time for juvenile crime and potentially dangerous behaviors.
IDENTIFYING THE NEED
We have designed these standards to help identify High Quality in afterschool programs. By specifying best practices within five program areas, we have aligned our standards to the focuses found in the Youth Program Quality Assessment tool.