Standards for child and youth development programs
Out-of-School Time (CYD-OST) 7: Community Relationships and Partnerships
Connections with other community organizations, institutions, and members increase the ability of the program and community to support and engage children and youth.
When the program is part of a larger entity (e.g., a community school, an extended learning program, a district/city-wide network, or a multi-service non-profit organization), the person or entity that oversees the program or initiative will likely play a role in establishing and facilitating community relationships and partnerships.
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.
Literature emphasizes the importance of developing strong relationships and partnerships with other community organizations and institutions. Some experts highlight the particular promise of community schools, which join schools with other community partners in an effort to create stronger families and communities and improve student learning. These schools engage families and other community stakeholders as equal partners in implementing comprehensive efforts to meet needs in the areas of education, youth development, family support, and community development, using the school as a base where all services are provided.
Relevant community organizations and institutions may include, but are not limited to: schools, libraries, parks, community centers, recreation and athletic services and facilities, cultural institutions (e.g., museums or theatres), community colleges and universities, local businesses, faith-based institutions, and other out-of-school time programs. Programs should typically consider their goals and areas of focus when identifying the potential for collaboration and partnerships. For example, a program providing langauge arts activities might partner with the local library, and a program providing STEM activities might partner with a local science museum.
Note: See CYD-OST 7.03 for more information regarding the ways partnerships can benefit a program.
In an effort to encourage successful collaboration, the program works with its partners to:
specify the goals of the partnership;
outline the roles and responsibilities of different parties;
establish mechanisms for regular communication, including for both individual and group contact and meetings; and
periodically evaluate the successes, challenges, and value of the partnership.
Implementation of this standard will be especially critical when the program is housed at a site operated by another organization or agency, such as a school or faith-based institution. In those instances written guidelines should spell out the use of space, supplies, and equipment, as well as each party’s responsibilities in areas such as cleaning, maintenance, communication, and routine costs (e.g., utilities, insurance, and repairs).
The program establishes partnerships that enable it to sustain and enhance programming by facilitating access to resources that include:
needed space, transportation, equipment, supplies, and funding, including sources of subsidy that can help make the program affordable;
experts with specialized content knowledge relevant to programming and activities;
opportunities for staff training and professional development;
opportunities to recruit potential personnel and volunteers; and
opportunities to recruit prospective program participants.
Note: Additional details regarding the ways community members and organizations may contribute to the program are included in the OST Programming Supplements. See CYD-OST 7.04 for additional expectations regarding partnerships with school-day personnel.
Some literature highlights the particular importance of partnering with organizations and institutions that can provide the material and human resources needed to strengthen programming in specialized areas such as the arts or STEM learning.
The program partners with school-day personnel to:
ensure that programming and activities complement, extend, and expand school day learning;
learn about the strengths, needs, and progress of children and youth; and
communicate information about children and youth’s performance and progress at the program.
While implementation of this standard may be especially critical when the program partners with a school to offer academic programming and/or homework help, building relationships with school-day personnel can be beneficial for all types of programs, including community-based programs. However, COA does recognize that it may be challenging for some programs to establish partnerships with school-day personnel, especially if the program serves students who attend different schools. When this is the case, it may make sense for the program to consider whether it might be able to build a relationship with appropriate staff at the district level.
NA The program is not designed to collaborate with a school.
Research suggests that youth and families fare better when there is a coordinated, cooperative approach across systems, and some literature suggests that collaborating with different types and levels of school day staff can help to promote the strength and sustainability of the partnership. For example, while a principal might set the overall tone for the partnership and enable a program to share the school’s resources, teachers might offer valuable information about the school-day curriculum and the progress of children and youth. Relationships with other personnel, from guidance counselors and secretaries to coaches and custodians, can yield their own opportunities and benefits. Multi-level partnerships can also protect against disruptions that might occur as a result of turnover amongst school day staff.
Children and youth are provided with opportunities to get to know and become involved with their communities.
In addition to providing opportunities designed to benefit children and youth, programs should ideally also facilitate activities that enable children and youth to contribute to the community, such as through community service or service learning projects. Personnel should also remain aware of, and encourage children and youth to attend, outside opportunities and events related to programming and areas of interest.
Note: Implementation of this standard will likely overlap with some aspects of CYD-OST 7.03, regarding utilization of community resources. For example, recruiting and matching children with volunteer mentors will simultaneously foster children’s connection to the community.
In an effort to ensure that the needs of children and youth are met, the program:
establishes working relationships with organizations and agencies prepared to address factors that pose barriers to children’s engagement and learning; and
collaborates with other community organizations, institutions, and members to identify and address gaps in services needed by children and families.
Organizations and agencies prepared to address factors that pose barriers to children’s engagement and learning include both organizations and agencies that provide family support services and organizations and agencies that serve children and youth with special needs.