Measuring & Improving Quality

What youth deserve: A statement of quality in afterschool

Quality out-of-school time (OST) programs inspire and promote learning and positive youth development by providing opportunities for autonomy and leadership; caring relationships; connections to families, communities and schools; safe environments; and engaging activities.

PSAYDN Statement of Quality in Afterschool defines the core elements that should guide afterschool programming. The statement provides a framework to define quality for Pennsylvania’s OST/afterschool programs and all other individuals and organizations that are interested in the quality of these programs, including public and private funders, parents and youth. The Statement of Quality outlines the necessary elements of a quality program in four core areas:

  1. Structure and management
  2. Positive connections
  3. Safety and health
  4. Activities

To help programs reflect on their levels of quality and evaluate their care within each core area, PSAYDN developed the Quality Self-Assessment ToolQuality Self-Assessment Discussion Guide, and Quality Self-Assessment Tool Instructions. These tools may be used separately or together, to identify levels of quality and foster discussion among program staff regarding the program’s current status, potential and priorities for quality improvement.


Getting the Most Out of the Self-assessment Process

Be sure to download and review the above Self-assessment Tool Instructions and Discussion Guide. OST staff and leaders often work under challenging conditions, with limited staff time and resources. Self-assessment and reflection can help programs focus their planning, action and support on key elements of youth program quality. Engaging multiple program staff levels, participants and/or stakeholders in this process brings a wider range of perspectives and contributions to a continuous quality improvement process.

Programs can use the tools in the way that makes sense for them – focusing on one or more of the core areas. While many programs do informal check-ins with staff and youth and make adjustments as needed, a more formal process will help sustain changes. Regularly scheduled retreats, bi-annual meetings or planning sessions are best for reflection around quality and improvement planning.


Other Assessment Tool Links

Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time Quality Self-Assessment (QSA) – the PSAYDN Discussion Guide works in tandem with this assessment.

Core Standards for Philadelphia’s Youth Programs – a collaborative effort of Philadelphia OST stakeholders

HighScope Youth Program Quality Assessment (PQA)

National Institute of Out-of-School Time Survey of Afterschool Youth Outcomes (SAYO Y)

Pennsylvania Keys to Quality Environment Rating Scales (ERS)


PSAYDN Quality Subcommittee

PSAYDN has a statewide Quality Subcommittee that meets quarterly to promote the adoption of a common Statement of Quality and the development of capacity-building, assessment and evaluation tools linked to the Statement of Quality. The Quality Subcommittee provides support to define a statewide quality framework for afterschool and youth development programs and workers. This involves identifying and building consensus around a set of core quality principles necessary to all child-serving programs, without limiting flexibility and adaptability required for variances in student ages, interests and program approaches.

If you have an interest in serving on the Quality Subcommittee, please contact PSAYDN Director This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .