Standards for child and youth development programs

2020 Edition

Out-of-School Time (CYD-OST) 1: Program Access and Enrollment

The program recruits and enrolls eligible children and youth.
2020 Edition

Currently viewing: OUT-OF-SCHOOL TIME (CYD-OST)



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. 
The program’s practices fully meet the standard, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Recruitment plan and/or description of outreach and recruitment efforts
  • Policy and/or procedures regarding attendance (CYD-OST 1.02)
  • Procedures for registration and orientation (CYD-OST 1.03, 1.04)
  • Sample registration form
  • Procedures for collaboration with families and other providers when children and youth have special needs (CYD-OST 1.06)
  • Policy for providing services to children and youth without the consent of parents or legal guardians (CYD-OST 1.08)
  • Informational materials made available to the community
  • Hours of operation
  • Registration/orientation materials, including:
    1. program handbook;
    2. rights and responsibilities information
  • Waiting list, if applicable
  • Fee schedule, if applicable
  • Interview:
    1. Program Administrator
    2. Site Director
    3. Program Personnel
    4. Children, youth, and families
  • Review files of children and youth

CYD-OST 1.01

The program develops and implements a recruitment plan that includes:
  1. conducting ongoing outreach to inform the public, including the families of prospective program participants, about the program’s mission, goals, activities, and benefits; and
  2. addressing potential barriers that might prevent children and youth from participating.
Related Standards:


Potential barriers may include, but are not limited to, factors related to transportation, fees, limited or inconvenient hours, and language spoken.  Given that the nature and quality of the activities offered also impacts attendance, it is also critical that the program provide high-quality activities relevant to the priorities and interests of children and youth and their families, as addressed thoughout both CYD-AM and this Service Standard.
Note: See CYD-OST 7 for more information regarding the community partnerships that can help the program to both recruit participants and address potential barriers to service.

CYD-OST 1.02

Hours of operation and expectations regarding attendance are based on consideration of community needs, program goals, and the best available evidence of effectiveness.
Related Standards:


While programs should make an effort to offer programming when children and families need it, COA does recognize that some programs may face logistical obstacles that they cannot overcome (e.g., if a program operating in a community center only has access to space during certain hours, and must choose between accommodating those hourly constraints and not operating at all).
Note: Information regarding community needs may be obtained through available data or through assessments, surveys, or focus groups conducted by the program itself, as addressed in CYD-AM 3.01
While some communities or populations may be in need of informal drop-in programs, it is also important to remember that: (1) children and youth must actually attend programs in order to benefit from them; and (2) level of attendance may impact the type and degree of benefit derived.

CYD-OST 1.03

During registration or orientation, children and youth and their families are:
  1. informed about the program’s mission, goals, activities, and hours of operation;
  2. provided with a handbook that details program policies and procedures;
  3. explained their rights, including any obligations the program has to them;
  4. informed about rules, responsibilities, expectations, and any situations that can result in removal from the program;
  5. offered a tour of the facility; and
  6. introduced to staff and program participants.
Related Standards:


Children and youth and their families should also receive a written summary of the rights and responsibilities addressed in elements (c) and (d) of the standard.  This information may be included in the program’s handbook for families.  A written summary of rights and responsibilities should ideally also be posted at the program.

Note:  Regarding element (d), see CYD-OST 1.06 and 14.07 for more information regarding accommodating children and youth with special needs.  As noted in those standards, programs are expected to accommodate all children and youth unless: (1) an individual poses a safety threat to him/herself or others, (2) the accomodations needed would result in a fundamental alteration to the program, or (3) the accommodations needed would put an undue financial burden on the program.  

Research has shown that offering a formal orientation period promotes the development of friendships and ties to the program, which, studies have shown, are critical to sustained involvement with the program over time.  Additionally, involving enrolled youth in program orientation helps recruit and retain older youth and helps older youth feel as though they are important members of the community.

CYD-OST 1.04

Registration practices:
  1. ensure equitable treatment;
  2. support timely program enrollment; and
  3. provide for placement on a waiting list, if desired.


Regarding element (a), programs should ideally consider the demographics of the program population in light of the demographics of the community/school, and strive to encourage diversity and inclusiveness.  Programs designed to serve specific populations (e.g., girls, low-income children, children of particular racial or ethnic backgrounds, or LGBTQ youth), should ensure that entry into the program is determined by appropriate criteria rather than by favoritism or discrimination.  

Children and youth who cannot be served, or cannot be served promptly, should be provided with information about other appropriate programs, if available in the community and desired by the child or youth and family.

Fundamental Practice

CYD-OST 1.05

The program collects relevant information from children and youth and their families, including:
  1. identifying information, including name and date of birth;
  2. address;
  3. emergency contact information, including written parental authorization for emergency care;
  4. relevant health information (e.g., records of up-to-date screenings and immunizations);
  5. whether children and youth have any special needs to be accommodated, including needs related to health or mental health;
  6. consent forms or permission slips, as needed;
  7. authorizations for pick-up, if applicable; and
  8. relevant school day data, if applicable.
Related Standards:


Information should be updated at least annually.  Regarding element (d), if a child or youth becomes injured the program may wish to require written authorization from a doctor before allowing the child or youth to resume participation in sports or fitness activities. 
Note: See CYD-OST 1.06 for additional expectations regarding the information to be gathered when children and youth have special needs.

CYD-OST 1.06

When children and youth have special needs, the program collaborates with families and other involved providers to learn about:

  1. their strengths and needs; and
  2. strategies for meeting their needs and helping them fully participate in the program.


Strategies can include efforts currently undertaken to address needs (i.e. at home or in school), as well as ideas for additional accommodations to meet a child or youth’s specific needs.  While some programs may obtain a copy of a child or youth’s 504 Plan or Individual Education Program, other programs may work with the family and school to establish other channels for obtaining information about children’s needs.  Programs should obtain the consent of the family before sharing information with other providers, as addressed in CYD-OST 14.
Note: See CYD-OST 14 for additional expectations regarding accommodating children and youth with special needs.  Please also note that the importance of meeting the needs of children and youth with varying needs and abilities is emphasized throughout this section of standards as a whole.  For example, see CYD-OST 3 for more information regarding supportive relationships, CYD-OST 4 and 5 for more information regarding behavior support and management, CYD-OST 8 for more information regarding programming and activities, and CYD-OST 9 for more information regarding program environment and materials.

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires programs to make “reasonable accommodations” to their policies, procedures, and practices to include persons with disabilities, but families of children with disabilities are frequently discriminated against when they try to access out-of-school time programs.  Consequentlly, literature on inclusion emphasizes the importance of: (1) providing individualized support and modifications that allow children to participate in a meaningful way; (2) establishing an inclusive environment where the contributions of each individual are respected and valued; and (3) training staff to ensure they are prepared to accommodate and include all children.  It is also important to note that the goal of the ADA is not to put a strain on programs, but rather to prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities through “reasonable accommodations” that provide opportunities for participation.  Accordingly, programs are expected to accommodate all children and youth unless: (1) an individual poses a safety threat to him/herself or others, (2) the accommodations needed would result in a fundamental alteration to the program, or (3) the accommodations needed would put an undue financial burden on the program.  It is also important to note that accommodations should be based on the individual needs of children and youth, and not on stereotypes about diagnoses or assumptions about needs.

CYD-OST 1.07

Children, youth, and their families receive a schedule of any applicable fees and estimated or actual expenses, and are informed prior to program participation about:
  1. the amount that will be charged;
  2. when fees or co-payments are charged, changed, refunded, waived, or reduced;
  3. the manner and timing of payment; and
  4. the consequences of nonpayment.


Please note that this standard addresses all types of fees, including fees charged for late pick-up, if applicable.
NA The program does not charge any fees.
Note: As referenced in CYD-OST 7.03, the program should seek to access sources of subsidy, from scholarships to tax credits, that could help make the program affordable for families.

Fundamental Practice

CYD-OST 1.08

The program states in writing circumstances under which it will allow participation by minors without consent from a parent or legal guardian, and provides this information upon request.
NA The program does not allow participation by minors without consent from a parent or legal guardian.