Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Out-of-School Time Services (PA-OST) 4: Building Supportive Relationships Between Program Participants and Adults

Personnel develop positive, caring, and supportive relationships with children and youth.
2020 Edition




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.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Policy defining appropriate boundaries and unacceptable personnel conduct
No On-Site Evidence
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Children, youth, and families
  • Observe personnel interactions with children and youth

PA-OST 4.01

  1. actively engage with children and youth in a warm, friendly, and respectful manner that helps them feel welcome, comfortable, and supported; and
  2. encourage the development of trust by being consistent and dependable, following through on what they say they will do.
Examples: Personnel may demonstrate warm, active engagement in a number of ways, such as calling children and youth by name; acknowledging children and youth when they arrive and depart; projecting a tone of welcome and cheer in their voices and gestures; using kind and supportive language; showing interest in what children and youth say and do; spending most of program time interacting with children and youth (including both during activities and when snacks are served); and taking care not to intrude on, interrupt, dismiss, belittle, or distance themselves from children and youth.

PA-OST 4.02

In an effort to truly get to know children and youth, personnel take the time to: 
  1. give children and youth individualized attention;
  2. check in with children and youth to see how they are doing;
  3. ask open-ended questions that encourage children and youth to share information about their lives, cultures, feelings, perspectives, needs, and interests; and
  4. pay close attention to what children and youth say and do, making a special effort to learn about their individual interests, abilities, temperaments, learning styles, and needs, including any special needs they may have.
Examples: The special needs referenced in element (d) of the standard include, but are not limited to, needs related to disabilities or a history of trauma.

PA-OST 4.03

Personnel support children and youth by: 
  1. responding to them with interest, acceptance, and appreciation; and
  2. responding appropriately to their individual needs, interests, and abilities.
Examples: Personnel can demonstrate implementation of this standard by, for example, expressing interest in children’s and youths’ cultures and experiences, encouraging children and youth to pursue their interests, respecting the different ways children and youth express their feelings, assessing a child’s or youth’s feelings before attempting to solve a problem; comforting children and youth who appear upset or disappointed, accepting a child’s or youth’s desire to be alone, and modifying actions in ways designed to nurture, include, and engage all children and youth regardless of their ability or temperament.

PA-OST 4.04

In an effort to ensure personnel maintain clear and appropriate boundaries with children and youth, the agency establishes a policy that:
  1. emphasizes that the role of personnel is to be a coach, instructor, and role model rather than a peer or friend;
  2. encourages relationships and interactions that serve the needs of children and youth, rather than the needs of personnel;
  3. outlines the type of conduct that would be deemed unacceptable; and
  4. addresses contact both at and outside of the program, including contact that might occur via telephone or electronic communications and postings.