Standards for Canadian organizations

2020 Edition

Out-of-School Time Services Definition


Children and youth who participate in Out-of-School Time programs gain the personal, social, emotional, and educational assets needed to support healthy development, increase well-being, and facilitate a successful transition through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood.


Out-of-School Time programs engage school-age children and youth in social, educational, and recreational activities appropriate to their needs, interests, and abilities; promote the development of positive relationships with adults and peers; and provide a physically and emotionally safe environment for young people to spend their out-of-school time hours. Services may be provided in a variety of different settings and at different times, including before school, after school, mid-day, on weekends, and during school vacations, including summer vacations. It is also important to note that organizations may describe the services they provide using a variety of different terms, from “after school,” to “school age care,” to “youth development,” to “out-of-school time,” to “expanded or extended learning.”

As noted in the Glossary, children and youth from the ages of five to eighteen are considered to be of “school age,” and this Service Standard is designed to accommodate programs serving a variety of age groups within that range. For example, while one program might serve only children in elementary school, another might be specifically designed for high school youth. In some cases standards include specific guidance (e.g., Interpretations or NAs) to clarify how the standard might apply to children and youth of a particular age range. When standards reference “older youth,” this includes middle- and high-school students (i.e. youth age 13 and up).


Viewing: CA-OST - Out-of-School Time Services


Note: These standards have been adapted from COA’s Standards for Child and Youth Development Programs to address the diverse array of programs dedicated to meeting the developmental needs of children and youth in a positive, out-of-school time setting. Organizations interested in learning about Dual Organization Accreditation and Child and Youth Development Program Accreditation should contact COA’s Client Relations Department if they are not currently pursuing (re)accreditation, or their Accreditation Coordinator if they are currently in process.

Note: Please see the CA-OST Reference List for the research that informed the development of these standards.

Note: For information about changes made in the 2020 Edition, please see the OST Crosswalk.