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.
Examples: Strategies for helping family members feel welcome and comfortable include, but are not limited to: greeting family members by name; using friendly voices, expressions, and gestures; showing interest in family members’ lives; and being relaxed rather than abrupt.
Personnel are responsive to families’ contacts and requests, and engage in regular two-way communication with families, both in-writing and in-person, to:
discuss the program’s goals, activities, and events;
learn and share information regarding the needs and progress of children and youth;
offer guidance regarding ways families can support the learning and development of their children; and
facilitate connections between families and school-day staff, when appropriate.
Examples: Mechanisms for engaging families can include newsletters, e-mails, texts, meetings, and informal interactions.
Guidance regarding the ways families can support the learning and development of their children will often be tailored to the program’s goals. For example, a program striving to promote academic achievement might provide guidance regarding ways to support academic success, and a program striving to promote healthy eating and exercise might educate families on healthy food choices and ways to encourage physical activity at home.
Family members are:
provided with opportunities to become appropriately engaged with the program; and
encouraged to provide input and feedback about the program.
While it is important to provide opportunities for families to engage with the program, personnel should also recognize that families who are unable or unwilling to participate in activities or events at the program can still support the learning and development of their children in other ways. This points to the importance of offering families guidance regarding the variety of ways families can support the learning and development of their children, as referenced in CA-OST 7.02.
Examples: Opportunities for engagement may vary based upon both the nature and goals of the program and the ages of program participants. For example, while organizations serving younger children may encourage family members to volunteer in the classroom, chaperone field trips, or share their skills and cultural traditions, it may be more appropriate for organizations serving older youth to involve family members by inviting them to milestone events and seeking their collaboration on an ongoing basis.
Families are provided with information about resources and services needed to address issues that pose barriers to children’s learning and development.
Some organizations may implement this standard by connecting families with another resource, such as a school counsellor, who is responsible for connecting children and families with needed supports.
Examples: Needed resources and services may include, but are not limited to: child care subsidies; food pantries or programs; medical or dental services; mental health services, including any services needed to promote recovery from trauma; housing or employment assistance; adult education classes; parent education classes; and financial management assistance.