Out-of-school time (OST) systems provide immense support for families and youth and are important pillars of many communities. But what happened to these systems during the COVID-19 pandemic? What role did these systems play in supporting children, youth and families and what supports are necessary to restore OST systems so they can continue to provide needed supports?
That is the focus of a new study being conducted by Research for Action (RFA), in partnership with McClanahan Associates Inc. and Dr. Carolyn Barnes of Duke University and Dr. Brian Christens of Vanderbilt University. The study will examine how city-level coordination within the OST ecosystem can contribute to community, family, youth, and OST program resilience in the wake of the pandemic. The study will answer timely questions to produce field-building research that can inform state and local policymakers and OST practitioners, as well as private funders and other stakeholders as they determine the best ways to support cities’ COVID recovery. It offers an opportunity to expand the field’s understanding of the contextual factors that contribute to or constrain the success of the OST sector, such as the OST policy environment, the equity context, and the nature of relationships among OST providers. Finally, the study will examine OST systems’ strategies for and perceived effectiveness in addressing equity concerns – a topic that has not been deeply explored in previous research.