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.