Out of School Time: A Golden Opportunity for Improved Public School Outcomes

With more than 60% of County residents commuting outside of Prince George’s for employment; and nearly 50% of families headed by single parents, the notion of ‘vulnerable children’ in the Prince George’s County context can be expanded beyond traditional indicators of income, access, and zip code. When it comes to childcare services – namely aftercare – in the County, the need spans a diverse socio-economic spectrum, as the vast majority of k-6 public school children are in some form of after school education, sports, or extra-curriculum activity between the hours of 2 PM and 6 PM. These children typically spend more than 40% of their day in aftercare (in a 10 hour day, 6 are spent in school and 4 in aftercare).

The aftercare ‘premium’ for parents is many-fold, the first of which is the extensive decision-making process in choosing an appropriate afterschool care option. The range of decision points include price, quality of care, safety, distance to school, transportation offerings, and hours of operation. The second key premium is quality of instruction, which typically does not factor high into choice, because there is no established standard.

For aftercare providers there are also premiums, as stretched families are heavily rely on them for a broad range of services, many of which fall outside of their core competencies. Based on demand, they are typically required to offer transportation, sports training, some instruction, and there is a high premium on homework help. The State of Maryland licenses providers and establishes safety standards and training that is affordable, accessible, and largely adhered to. But providers are left to their own resources when it comes to establishing quality standards of instruction and there is no direct or organized link to public school standards or best practice approaches.

We believe that a well networked aftercare system in Prince George’s County has the greatest potential to positively impact public school academic performance quickly. This system would equip aftercare providers with best practice tools and competencies in aftercare education in a way that supports and complements public school performance. This approach expands options for parents and equalizes a system where price is often an indication of quality, rather than quality performance standards directly.

The expectation is that children K-6 will demonstrate improved public school performance quickly when aftercare programs (public, private, religious, and non-profit) are equipped with common ‘best practice’ quality standards, trained on useful teaching techniques, have access to common tools, and shared performance outcomes.

In the spring of 2013, PGCSIF along with The Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce will engage countywide network organizations, out-of-school time providers, and the philanthropic community in order to effectively launch the ‘2 to 6’ initiative in Prince George’s County. For more information, contact us at info@innovateprincegeorges.org.

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