The OST regulations went into effect on November 30, 2000. OST programs fitting the definition in Child Care Services rules need to become licensed, whether located at school sites or community sites. The regulations are designed to make licensing easier in the school setting. Grantees will need to seek further information from their licensing worker.
Quality, health and safety issues are the focus of the regulations, but another important reason to get licensed is eligibility for reimbursement for families on Child Care Assistance.
All families who are eligible for child care assistance under the Division of Child Care Services' guidelines can receive that assistance for OST programs. Programs can assist in getting families enrolled, and the reimbursement fees go directly to the program. This provides an important continuing revenue stream to help sustain a program.
Academic support, homework assistance and the like are considered as only one important component of an overall balanced program.
Other aspects of the program may include:
Most importantly, the program should be varied and offer choices, focusing on experiential learning.
An after-school tutoring program is not considered a typical after-school program. The OST program should recognize and address academic support, but only as integrated into a program offering a variety of enrichment activities. Currently, grants to support after school program start-up, or ongoing operational costs are no longer available. Tutoring programs may wish to contact the school administration about possible funding through one of the title programs.
Older children need to be challenged by a wide variety of choices in activities and feel they have a voice in designing and running the program. Involve them, from surveying to actual assistance during program activities, but not so much as to replace staff duties. Bringing in a "club focus" for older children, along with service-learning, may also be helpful.
Older students can work well with the younger students when playing games or getting snacks ready. The older students "enhance" the program atmosphere and events. However, programs must maintain appropriate staff to child ratios and can never count these older children as staff members for ratio needs. Programs must be clear that older children should not perform cleaning or other chore-like duties just to keep them busy. Older youth should never be placed in a role as a disciplinarian for younger children.
Separate, age-appropriate programming for this age group is necessary to keep them involved and excited about coming to the program. "Club" activities can be fun for this age group, along with service learning. It is also beneficial to ask youth for their own ideas.
High school students can work as staff in OST programs. State regulations allow for "site assistants" to be a minimum of 14 years old.
However, if a site is serving children ages 12 and older, the site assistant must be at least 16 years old. When employing high-school students as staff, remember that anyone under 18 years old cannot be left alone with the children. If these high school students are included in the staff-to-child ratio, they must complete the training requirements set out in rule.
Due to the training requirements, we recommend trying to plan for 1 adult (over 18 years old) per 15 students; and utilize high school students as supplemental staff.
The out-of-school time rules do not require any position to hold a teaching certificate. The qualifications for staff members will depend on the responsibilities placed with each position.
This staff person responsible for planning and implementing center activities must meet one of the following qualification requirements:
Of the four qualification options listed above, none specify the need for a teaching certificate. Another important requirement for the qualified staff person is the need to be on site at least 3 hours per week. If this person is responsible for program planning at more than one site, this means the individual must be on site at least 3 hours per week per site.