Standards for child and youth development programs

2020 Edition

Out-of-School Time (CYD-OST) 6: Family Connections

Personnel build relationships with family members that increase the ability of both the program and family to support 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. 
Note: Treating families in a culturally responsive manner and accommodating their written and oral communication needs, as addressed in CYD-OST 14, will help to facilitate family engagement.
Literature highlights the importance of developing strong relationships and partnerships with families, and emphasizes the important role that family plays in youth development.
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
  • A description of ways families are engaged
  • Policies and/or procedures for family contact and engagement (CYD-OST 6.02, 6.03, 6.04, 6.05, 6.06)
  • Table of contents of handbook for families
  • Information made available for families (re: program activities and events, along with ways to support the learning and development of their children), for past quarter
  • Handbook for families
  • Documentation of collaboration with families (e.g., call logs, homework logs, notations in files of children and youth, etc.)
  • Interview:
    1. Program Administrator
    2. Site Director
    3. Program Personnel
    4. Children, youth, and families
  • Review files of children and youth
  • Observe interactions between personnel and families
  • Observe arrivals and departures

CYD-OST 6.01

Family members are treated with respect, and helped to feel welcome and comfortable at the program.


 In addition to showing respect to all without bias, personnel should also: (1) make an effort to greet family members by name and in their native language; (2) use friendly voices, expressions, and gestures; (3) show interest in family members’ lives; and (4) be relaxed rather than abrupt.  Personnel should also recognize that some cultures like direct communication, while others prefer indirect.

CYD-OST 6.02

Program personnel engage in two-way communication with families at regular intervals to:
  1. discuss the program’s mission, goals, activities, and events;
  2. learn and share information regarding the needs and progress of children and youth;
  3. offer guidance regarding ways families can support the learning and development of their children;
  4. respond to family needs; and
  5. facilitate connections between families and school-day staff, when appropriate.
Related Standards:


 Programs should develop policies or procedures regarding expectations for both individual and group contact that specify both how, and how frequently, contact is to occur.  Contact should ideally occur both in writing (e.g., via newsletter, e-mail, and/or text) and in-person (e.g., via meetings or conferences, as well as during informal interactions with family members).  


 Guidance regarding the ways families can support the learning and development of their children will typically be tailored to the program’s goals, as addressed in CYD-AM 3.02.  For example, a program striving to promote academic achievement would typically 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. 
Note:  As addressed in CYD-OST 14.03, personnel should strive to accommodate the communication needs of family members by communicating, in writing and orally, in the languages of the populations served.  The program should also support family involvement by developing a family handbook, and offering orientation sessions for the families of new program participants, as noted in CYD-OST 1.03

CYD-OST 6.03

Family members are provided with opportunities to become appropriately engaged with the program.
Related Standards:


Opportunities for engagement may vary based upon both the nature and goals of the program and the ages of program participants.  For example, while programs 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 programs serving older youth to involve family members by inviting them to milestone events and seeking their collaboration on an ongoing basis.  
Note: 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 CYD-OST 6.02.

CYD-OST 6.04

Family members are encouraged to provide input and feedback about the program.
Related Standards:


 Family members should have opportunities to provide input and feedback on an individual basis, as well as through participation on decision-making bodies such as the advisory group responsible for providing ongoing guidance to the program. 

CYD-OST 6.05

Personnel and families work together to make arrivals and departures go smoothly.


Conversations with family members should not take attention away from children or their activities, and family members should be able to easily find children and their possessions during pick-up.
NA The program only serves older youth who can come and go independently. 
Note: See CYD-OST 13.04 for additional expectations regarding ensuring safety during arrivals and dismissals.

CYD-OST 6.06

Families are provided with information about resources and services needed to address issues that pose barriers to children’s learning and development. 


The program should consider a family’s culture and language when providing information about available resources and services. 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. COA recognizes that some programs may implement this standard by connecting families with another resource, such as a school counselor, who is responsible for connecting children and families with needed supports.