Improving the quality of services that afterschool and out-of-school time (ASOST) programs provide will be complex and require collaboration among many decision makers and program staff, EDC’s Meghan Broadstone told a group of lawmakers and stakeholders at the Massachusetts State House on Tuesday, January 31.
Broadstone, a research scientist with expertise in early childhood and out-of-school time policy, was called to the State House to present findings from an EDC study she led for the Massachusetts Departments of Early Education and Care (EEC) and Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE).
“EEC and ESE asked us to conduct a study to inform and advance their efforts to support ASOST programs in improving their vital services,” Broadstone said. “Many ASOST programs have several funders, and they struggle to meet their funders’ different, often conflicting, requirements. When funders work together and align their requirements for programs, it frees programs to focus on children and youth.”
During her presentation, Broadstone shared six recommendations with the Massachusetts Afterschool and Out-of-School Time Coordinating Council, an advisory committee comprising legislators and representatives from EEC and ESE, public health and workforce development agencies, and key stakeholders from organizations such as the United Way and the Massachusetts Library Association. The recommendations included the following:
- Ensure state-level systems and structures are in place to support ongoing coordination between EEC and ESE to support alignment of ASOST quality initiatives
- Engage ASOST stakeholders in articulating a common vision of high-quality ASOST services and associated definitions and terms
- Develop and deliver messages about the importance of quality in ASOST and the need for alignment
- Engage in a process to create a single set of ASOST quality indicators through a phased approach
- Address barriers to participation in EEC and ESE initiatives
- Support additional research
“We valued the role of EEC and ESE staff as our research partners in this important study,” Broadstone said. “They view the study as contributing to the state’s ongoing activities to create greater alignment among funders’ expectations for programs and expressed a deep commitment to reducing barriers to improve quality across the board.”