Out-of-School Time programs are opportunities outside the classroom for children and youth to play, learn, and grow. They take place before or after school, on the weekends, or during summer and holiday breaks. No two out-of-school time programs are alike -- they can be delivered at schools, churches, or recreation centers, and they can involve many types of activities, including art, sports, theater, dance, STEM, and many others.

Programs offered before and after school, on weekends and during school breaks can have a big impact on a youth’s health and development.

For many parents, Out-of-School Time programs are vital to ensuring their children and youth are safe and engaged in positive activities during out-of-school hours. They also offer practical solutions for working families when work and school schedules are not aligned.  Out-of-School Time programs help develop engaged and healthy youth, and in return engaged and healthy youth help create healthy communities.

Why should youth participate in Out-of-School Time programs?

  1. Out-of-School Time programs promote healthy habits. Out-of-School Time programs help keep young people active and give them the tools to develop a healthy diet and make other healthy choices.

  2. Out-of-School Time programs help keep young people safe. Out-of-School Time programs provide safe, structured spaces with trusted adults for young people to learn, play, and connect with peers.

  3. Out-of-School Time programs help bolster education outcomes. Out-of-School Time programs with an educational component go beyond just offering help with homework. Many offer a full range of fun and creative programming that enriches the curricula young people receive in their classrooms, and increases the chances that they will attend classes and graduate on time.

  4. Out-of-School Time programs offer opportunities for youth to get involved in community engagement and service opportunities, and help youth connect with other peers and adults in their community.


Did you know?

Youth who regularly participate in

Out-of-School Time Programs...

• Have lower rates of obesity and can learn to make positive nutritional and lifestyle choices

• Have increased positive outcomes including psychological flourishing, sense of civic engagement, and education attainment

• Are less likely to engage in criminal activity. Are nearly three times less likely to skip class, engage in unhealthy behavior, or experiment with drugs

• Are less likely to drop out of school

To find an Out-of-School Time Program, click on the Find a Provider page. To gain access to resources and learn more about the benefits of Out-of-School Time, you can visit our OST Library page.



While the type of Out-of-School Time program depends on the activities being sought and the activities provided, parents and guardians should ask questions upfront to ensure they are identifying the right Out-of-School Time program for their child(ren).  Below is a list of ten questions that you can ask an Out-of-School Time Provider to help guide your decision when identifying which program is right for your child:


Does the program....  

  1. Have written policies to protect the safety of youth? What are the health and safety protocols for COVID-19?

  2. Have scheduled activities? Is it organized? Do activities usually begin and end on schedule? 

  3. Continually offer new and positive learning experiences? Is it repetitive or does the program build as the youth participate?

  4. Offer group and individual activities?

  5. Create an environment that allows youth to feel a sense of belonging?

  6. Have clear rules and expectations for youth? How does the Out-of-School Time staff handle conflicts, disagreements, or misunderstandings among the youth?

  7. Offer different activities to engage youth or is the program “one size fits all?”  

  8. Group youth of similar ages for activities or are youth of all ages together all the time?

  9. Allow youth time to work on homework and/or provide educational learning support?

  10. Offer regular communication with parents (i.e. email updates, parent meetings, one-on-one talks, etc.)?