Enriching Arkansas Children’s Lives Through High-Quality Out-Of-School Activities

The Task Force recommends that Arkansas take the following actions to support expanded access to quality after-school and summer programs across the state.

Promote quality by:

  • Using the framework for quality standards and all of its elements in program expansion, evaluation, and training for after-school and summer programs.
  • Expanding the capacity of state agencies to promote quality standards based on the quality framework and to administer programs.
  • Determining a suggested number of hours and days per week of participation by after-school and summer program participants needed to produce positive outcomes for children and youth based on research-based best practices.

Improve standards and program evaluation by:

  • Promoting quality in after-school and summer programs by adapting minimum licensing requirements for school-age care programs to meet the diversity of after-school and summer programs in the state. These requirements provide the foundation for Arkansas to build higher-quality standards based on national standards.
  • Asking all after-school and summer programs to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs with a common standard of measurement, regardless of the funding source.
  • Requiring state agencies responsible for out-of-school time programs to collect common information and report progress on common outcomes for programs.

Expand strategic partnerships by:

  • Helping schools and communities find creative ways to connect programs, schools, and communities beyond normal school hours by leveraging existing state and community resources, strengthening public-private partnerships, and formalizing school-community partnerships to build on school-day learning.
  • Maximizing the use of existing resources, especially school campuses and other community buildings, to address the need for after-school and summer program facilities.
  • Encouraging formal links between schools, other educational institutions and out-of-school time providers. In particular, after-school and summer programs should make explicit program links to the Arkansas Curriculum Frameworks.

Link after-school and summer programs of all types to workforce and economic development by:

  • Encouraging program-business partnerships in communities to provide students with internship and apprenticeship opportunities.
  • Linking regional liaisons to local workforce development efforts to ensure that business and workforce training interests are represented on both a state and local level.