Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Out-of-School Time Services (PA-OST) 7: Family Connections

Personnel build relationships with family members that increase the ability of both the agency and family to support 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
  • Procedures for family contact and engagement
  • Samples of information provided to families, from the previous 12 months (re: program activities and events, along with ways to support the learning and development of their children) 
  • Handbook for families
  • Documentation of collaboration with families (e.g., call logs, homework logs, notations in files of children and youth, etc.)
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Children, youth, and families
  • Review files of children and youth
  • Observe interactions between personnel and families

PA-OST 7.01

Family members are helped to feel welcome and comfortable.
Examples: Strategies for helping family members feel welcome and comfortable include, but are not limited to: greeting family members by name; using friendly voices, expressions, and gestures; showing interest in family members’ lives; and being relaxed rather than abrupt.

PA-OST 7.02

Personnel are responsive to families’ contacts and requests, and engage in regular two-way communication with families, both in-writing and in-person, to: 
  1. discuss the program’s 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; and
  4. facilitate connections between families and school-day staff, when appropriate.
Examples: Mechanisms for engaging families can include newsletters, e-mails, texts, meetings, and informal interactions.
Guidance regarding the ways families can support the learning and development of their children will often be tailored to the program’s goals. For example, a program striving to promote academic achievement might 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.

PA-OST 7.03

Family members are: 
  1. provided with opportunities to become appropriately engaged with the program; and
  2. encouraged to provide input and feedback about the program.


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 PA-OST 7.02.
Examples: Opportunities for engagement may vary based upon both the nature and goals of the program and the ages of program participants. For example, while agencies 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 agencies serving older youth to involve family members by inviting them to milestone events and seeking their collaboration on an ongoing basis.

PA-OST 7.04

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


Some agencies may implement this standard by connecting families with another party who is responsible for connecting children and families with needed supports.
Examples: 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.