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.
Fair and equitable treatment includes being treated in a responsive and affirming manner regardless of background, race, ethnicity, culture, language, religion, socioeconomic status, gender identity and expression, sexual identity, sexual orientation, disability, or ability. Program information, other print materials, electronic media, and trainings should also be presented in a non-discriminatory manner, using nonstigmatizing language.
The program has a system that program applicants, program participants, the family members of participants, and other stakeholders can use to express and resolve grievances/complaints, which includes:
the right to file a grievance without interference or retaliation;
timely written notification of the resolution and an explanation of any further appeal, rights, or recourse; and
at least one level of review that does not involve the person about whom the complaint has been made or the person who reached the decision under review.
The program’s system for expressing and resolving grievances should be stipulated in written procedures that set forth steps and timelines covering all elements of the standard. It is also important to note that this standard covers grievance procedures for all program stakeholders, not just for the children and youth participating in the program. Procedures for handling the grievances of children and youth should cover the basic elements of the standard, but standards implementation may look somewhat different than it might for handling the grievances of other stakeholders, such as parents. For example, if children are not yet reading with ease, it may be more appropriate to implement element (b) of the standard through a verbal notification rather than a written one. If the program chooses to handle child/youth grievances through a conflict-resolution process, the procedures for conflict resolution should address the basic elements of the standard.
COA recognizes that implementation of element (c) may prove challenging when the program is a privately-held and owner-operated for profit and the owner is both the subject of the complaint and the highest level of authority at the program.
Personnel find effective ways to communicate with all children and youth and their families, and accommodate written and oral communication needs by:
taking extra time with individuals who speak another language at home or have difficulty listening or speaking;
speaking to individuals on a level they seem to understand, and recognizing both non-verbal and verbal responses;
communicating, in writing and orally, in the languages of the major population groups served;
providing, or arranging for, bilingual personnel or translators or arranging for the use of communication technology, as needed;
providing telephone amplification, sign language services, or other communication methods for deaf or hearing impaired persons, to the extent possible;
providing, or arranging for, communication assistance for persons with special needs who have difficulty making their needs known; and
considering literacy level when preparing written material.
Personnel should avoid using children and youth as translators, if possible.
Informed, written consent is obtained from children and youth, and their parents or legal guardians, prior to recording, photographing, or filming.
It is not necessary to obtain consent each time children and youth may be recorded, photographed, or filmed; consent may be provided at registration and maintained in program records or files. Consents should be reviewed and updated annually.
The program informs children, youth, and their parents or legal guardians, prior to the disclosure of confidential or private information, about circumstances when the program may be legally or ethically permitted or required to release such information without their consent.
When the program receives a request for the release of confidential information about a child or youth, or when the release of confidential information is necessary for program participation, prior to releasing such information the program:
determines if the reason to release information is valid;
obtains informed, written authorization from the child or youth’s parent or legal guardian;
offers a copy of the signed authorization to the parent or legal guardian, and maintains a copy in the child’s file; and
involves the child or youth in the process, to the extent possible and appropriate based on age and developmental level.
In the context of this standard, “valid” means justifiable, legitimate, legally permissible, and in the best interest of children and youth. If the program deems it necessary, it should obtain legal counsel regarding the confidentiality of records and the conditions under which they may be subpoenaed. Unless otherwise required by law, authorization to release confidential information is not necessary where the request for information is pursuant to a subpoena. The program should seek additional legal counsel, as necessary, when others seek identifying information about an individual or family, or when the release of confidential information is necessary for program participation. If the program prohibits the release of all confidential information through policy, the program must still have a procedure in place outlining how it handles requests for the release of confidential information. If the program does not prohibit the release of any and all confidential information, the program should have a release form as referenced in the standard. When permitted or required by law, regulation, or court order, confidential information may be released without authorization. However, parents or legal guardians (and children/youth, as appropriate) should still be informed that the information will be released.
Regarding element (d) of the standard, the program is responsible for defining the age at which a child or youth will provide written authorization, in conjunction with any applicable state laws (e.g., when a child is age 10 or over, the program will seek authorization from both the child and his/her parent or legal guardian; but when a child is under age 10, the program will only seek authorization from the parent or legal guardian). Even if children are deemed too young to sign a written authorization, the program should still seek to involve them in the process to the extent that they are capable of being included.
The program enrolls children and youth with special needs and:
makes reasonable, respectful accommodations to help them fully participate in the program;
encourages collaboration among personnel, families, and other involved providers to promote consistency in meeting needs; and
ensures they are grouped with peers of the same age range, even if their documented developmental level is different from their chronological age.
As noted in CYD-OST 1.06, programs must make reasonable accommodations to their policies, procedures, and practices to support the participation of children and youth with disabllities. Accordingly, when children and youth have special needs the program should: (1) partner with parents and other involved providers to gain an understanding of needs and potential strategies for accommodaton, as referenced in CYD-OST 1.06; (2) develop plans for accommodating needs; (3) implement identified accommodations; and (4) adjust plans and accommodations, as needed. Given that children and youth may have special needs related to physical, behavioral, medical, emotional, or cognitive conditions, appropriate accommodations will vary based on the individual needs presented. For example, it might be necessary to modify the physical environment, train personnel to meet medical or behavioral needs, or partner with specialists who can provide guidance or assist children with certain activities.
Note: See CYD-OST 11 for more information about responding to health needs, CYD-OST 5 for more information about responding to special behavioral needs, CYD-OST 8 for more information regarding accommodations to programming and activities, and CYD-OST 4 for more information about promoting an inclusive environment that encourages appropriate interactions between children with special needs and their peers. Please note that the importance of meeting diverse needs is also emphasized throughout this section of standards as a whole.
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.
When children and youth have opportunities to go on field trips or participate in high-risk activities, the program obtains written, signed permission slips from their parents or legal guardians.
Children and youth have the right to opt out of any program activity or field trip.
When a field trip is planned and alternative programming will not be provided for children and youth who choose not to attend, children, youth, and their families should be informed ahead of time.