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Scanning the System: Support for Quality Programming in Philadelphia’s Out-of-School Time

Approximately a quarter of a million school-aged children and youth live in Philadelphia. No exact count exists of how many participate in Out-of-School Time (OST) programs. The City of Philadelphia estimates that 187,000 children and youth participate in the OST programs it funds annually, investing approximately $41 million per year. Other funders, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private philanthropy, contribute an estimated additional $14.3 million to Philadelphia’s OST programs. This array of funding supports hundreds of OST providers ranging in size and type.

OST programs provide, at minimum, child care for working parents before and after school, on weekends, in the evening, and during the summer. However, high-quality OST programs can also positively impact a range of academic, social, and emotional outcomes for children and youth.

The City of Philadelphia is engaged in an effort to support OST program quality as part of its larger OST strategic initiative, launched in 2017. Through these quality improvement efforts, the city hopes to better leverage the capacities of its diverse array of OST providers to improve key outcomes for children.

This report represents a first step in Philadelphia’s efforts to support OST program quality. The City of Philadelphia commissioned Research for Action (RFA) to conduct research examining what OST providers currently do to ensure program quality and to identify where providers can benefit from additional support. Ultimately, Philadelphia hopes to realign its current OST-related funding to support a shared, inclusive, and coordinated system that sets and reaches ambitious goals on behalf of its young people.