Children & Youth

Pennsylvania’s children and youth spend 20 percent of their waking hours in school. It is important to know How Are They Spending The Other 80% and its potential impact on your community.

26 percent of Pennsylvania’s K-12 youth are responsible for taking care of themselves. These children spend an average of more than six hours per week unsupervised after school. A lack of adult supervision is linked to lower grades and test scores, higher levels of tobacco and drugs, an increased likelihood of accidents and injuries and a greater likelihood of early sexual activity. (Afterschool Alliance and National Institute on Out-of-School Time, 2004)


Keeping Kids Safe and Healthy

Afterschool programs are proven to reduce risk behaviors and cut crime. Teens who do not participate in afterschool programs are nearly 3 times more likely to use drugs and 37% more likely to become parents. (U.S. Department of Education, 2000) Studies show that juvenile crime and other risk behaviors like smoking, drinking, doing drugs, and sexual activity are more likely to occur between 3 and 6 p.m. (Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2000) OST also Keep Kids Safe and Healthy through health and wellness education, encouraging physical activity, and providing a safe stable environment to learn.


Inspiring Learning

Children and youth who regularly attend high-quality OST programs have better grades and conduct in school; more academic and enrichment opportunities; better peer relations and emotional adjustment; and lower incidences of drug-use, violence and pregnancy. (U.S. Department of Education, 2000)

Afterschool programs help students succeed and stay in school. Frequent attendance in quality OST programs improves grades and test performance, increases school attendance, improves homework completion and quality, reduces grade retention and increases the likelihood that students will graduate from high school and go on to some type of post secondary education. (Afterschool Alliance and Harvard Family Research Project 2004) Making The Case- How Good Afterschool Programs Improve School Day Attendance, research shows that good afterschool programs can not only improve academic performance but also influence school-day attendance.

The strongest predictor of whether students will dropout of high school is poor academic performance. Other risk factors include repeating grades, low socioeconomic background, speaking English as a second language, becoming pregnant, and being frequently tardy or absent from school. (U.S. Department of Education, 2004)


Older Youth – A Special Need and What to Consider

Finding quality programs that engage middle and high school youth can be especially challenging. They are testing their independence, want to hang out with friends, find jobs, etc. However, it is proven that youth enrolled in OST have a stronger connection to the school day and community, recognize the importance of an education, and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. We encourage you to read PSAYDN’s Pennsylvania Older Youth Out-of-School Time Study: A Practitioner's Guide to Promising Practices for Recruiting and Retaining Older Youth. The Guide studies real programs in Pennsylvania, and highlights the structure and activities the programs use to keep older youth engaged and prepared for the real world.

Do you have an older child? Think about opportunities not activities. Older Youth need opportunities to develop social and workplace skills through meaningful projects in the real world. Find a Program.