Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A National Survey of After-School Coordinating Organizations

The Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (CBASS) has released “Making the Connections: A Report on the First National Survey of Intermediary Organizations.” In an effort to focus on the increasing interest in after-school programs, CBASS recently completed a survey of 212 coordinating organizations – often coined “intermediary organizations” – in an effort to capture just what it takes to provide youth with high-quality expanded learning opportunities in communities throughout the nation.

Providing a safe place for students to receive academic enrichment and build relationships with both adults and peers, after-school programs can play a critical in the lives of children and families. As the report suggests, many communities have cobbled together programs from individual neighborhoods and schools to offer students after-school programming. In other communities, however, intermediary organizations have begun to coordinate programs across a city, locate the funding needed to develop and sustain effective programs and tackle quality improvement issues, such as tracking student performance and attendance with data systems. Often, these intermediary organizations are local community foundations, social service agencies, United Ways or YMCAs. With intermediary organizations like After School Matters, The After-School Corporation and LA’s BEST demonstrating how they can work to improve outcomes for children and youth, CBASS conducted a national survey to assess just how these organizations are supporting after-school programming.

According to the survey, 70% of intermediaries see one of their most critical roles as raising public and private funds for local programs. In the midst of a difficult economic climate, additional funding can impact the existence of a program and the number of children and youth in serves. Though funds from intermediary organization has significantly increased access to programs in recent years, 60% of intermediaries report that their top goal is to increase access to after-school programming, particularly for underserved youth.

More than just broad funding, over half of intermediaries report that they also support the development of quality standards and tools that help programs improve their effectiveness. In many cases, intermediaries report that they would like to support the design and operation of coordinate data systems, as these systems allow programs to track participation rates and other key pieces of information that can inform improvement intiatives. The use of data to track progress and adjust programs to meet the needs of children is absolutely imperative to any program as it allows staff to recognize just how their program is impacting children and youth.

To learn more about the CBASS survey and how your community can use these results to design or improve after-school programs, please click here.

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