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Many highly effective organizations and programs go through a regular process of honest self-assessment which, in turn, informs annual goal setting and improvement planning. The self-assessment process for out-of-school-time programs can be broad as described below (comparing current functioning to what is considered “best practice” in the field). Or the focus of a self-assessment process could be more narrow (focusing on a particular aspect of functioning like the quality of STEM activities provided to after-school students). Below we provide a resource for conducting a broad self-assessment process. 

The NC 21st CCLC Out-of-School-Time Program Quality Self-Assessment format is designed to engage program leaders in thoughtful discussions about strengths and areas needing improvement. Although designed for use by 21st CCLC programs in North Carolina, it can be used by any after-school program.

NC 21st CCLC Out-of-School-Time Program Quality Self-Assessment Toolkit

To use the NC 21st CCLC Out-of-School-Time Program Quality Self-Assessment, complete the following steps:

  1. For an overview of the Self-Assessment, review  the Background and Instructions (pdf)
  2. Complete the Self-Assessment Tool (fillable pdf form) by responding to the questions under each of the eight quality standards. 
    • Check the Self-Assessment Summary to view the results of your responses for the quality standards.
  3. Complete the Self-Assessment Planning Worksheet (fillable pdf form) to plan efforts to address the two or three standards that need the most attention in the upcoming months. 

Download the full 21st CCLC Out-of-School-Time Program Quality Self-Assessment Toolkit (fillable pdf form).

There are three ways to access and use the toolkit:

  1. Open and print for completing as hard copy.
  2. Open and complete online, and print hard copy for your records.
  3. Open, download, and save to your computer, to complete and save as a digital record.

Resources for Quality Standards

Based on the thinking and experience of out-of-school-time providers, researchers, and other professionals, in North Carolina and across the country, the North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs (NC CAP) set forth to determine what high quality out-of-school-time programs have in common. NC CAP then developed and made available a set of quality standards for these programs. In 2017, the SERVE Center at UNCG, in collaboration with the Federal Monitoring and Support Division at NCDPI, adapted the standards to serve as the framework for the NC 21st CCLC Out-of-School-Time Program Quality Self-Assessment

Click on each standard below to review the indicators and access links to related resources where available.

Standard #1: Provide students with a safe environment

Does the out-of-school-time program…

  1. have an environment that is free of safety hazards, clean, and conducive to the learning activities?   
  2. have written and approved safety policies and procedures that are shared with students and their parents?
  3. train all staff on written and approved safety policy and procedures?
  4. comply with state-required emergency and evacuation procedures including safety and fire drills?
  5. maintain all requisite documents pertaining to facility safety inspections?
  6. maintain accurate and readily available registration documents and emergency information for all students?
  7. maintain a regular schedule that has been clearly communicated to staff, parents, and students? 
  8. have effective procedures for arrival, dismissal, and other important student transitions (e.g., way to record students’ arrival, departure)? 
  9. ensure safe transportation to and from the program and program-sponsored field trips (as needed)?
  10. serve at least one nutritious snack and/or meal per day?
  11. have written guidance for parents and staff on working with students with disabilities as per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?  
Standard #2: Recruit, hire, train, and retain a qualified staff

Does the out-of-school-time program…

  1. have a safe and effective staff-student ratio?
  2. conduct background checks on all staff, including volunteers?
  3. consider the educational qualifications of staff during the hiring process?
  4. employ program staff who are representative of the community?
  5. maintain an employee handbook that describes program policies and procedures?
  6. hold regular staff meetings?
  7. have a staff compensation structure that is reasonable and necessary to the scope of the grant?
  8. assess the development needs of staff and support relevant staff training?
  9. offer staff training opportunities around fostering mutual respect and positive relationships?
Standard #3: Help students learn in different environments

Does the out-of-school-time program…

  1. offer opportunities for active or independent learning (e.g., project-based learning)?
  2. offer opportunities for group-based activities, peer mentoring, or other peer-to-peer activities?
  3. offer learning activities off the program site?
  4. offer service activities, community-based projects, or internships (for older students)?
  5. offer activities that stimulate interest in the community?
Standard #4: Develop and maintain student attendance processes that are clear and effective

Does the out-of-school-time program…

  1. have a way to record/monitor daily student attendance?
    maintain a clear attendance policy?
  2. clearly communicate attendance policies and goals to students and their families?
  3. utilize appropriate staff, as needed, for family outreach to address any attendance-related issues?
  4. use attendance data to examine strengths and weaknesses of program delivery and adjust programming as needed?
Standard #5: Develop and maintain positive relationships between students and staff

Does the out-of-school-time program…

  1. have written guidance, with staff training, on student and staff expectations for respectful behaviors during out-of-school time?
  2. support staff in developing positive student relationships (e.g., training, feedback, resources)?
  3. foster collaboration between students and staff in setting clear expectations for program behavior (e.g., encourage mutual respect, listening and responsiveness between staff and students)?
  4. systematically monitor and offer feedback on student behavior?
  5. have staff that models expected behavior for students?
Standard #6: Establish and maintain effective partnerships with families, businesses, and communities

Does the out-of-school-time program…

  1. have a plan for family/parent involvement?
  2. maintain an effective process for regular communication with families, schools, businesses, and community-based programs?
  3. offer educational experiences for parents and families of enrolled children?
  4. collect feedback (including suggestions for improvement) from key stakeholders (e.g., parents, community, schools)?
  5. have established community and school collaborations that enhance program activities and sustainability?
  6. offer parents an environment that is comfortable and inviting?
  7. offer staff training, as appropriate, on parent participation, community and/or school collaboration?
  8. have a parent/community advisory committee that meets regularly?
Standard #7: Provide students with activities and opportunities that support their academic development

Does the out-of-school-time program…

  1. have an effective process to collaborate with regular school-day personnel (e.g., principals, classroom teachers)?
  2. offer grade-level-aligned programming to reinforce regular school-day learning (e.g., tutoring, homework assistance)?
  3. make available, academically-related resources (e.g., books, materials, computer hardware and software, or other resources)?
  4. offer instructional activities that align with academic needs identified for students?
  5. offer instructional activities that align with the state standard courses of study?
Standard #8: Provide students with enrichment activities and opportunities that support academic and personal growth

Does the out-of-school-time program…

  1. offer students academic skill-building activities to manage day-to-day responsibilities including homework, studying, note-taking, etc.?
  2. offer students youth development activities that foster responsible-decision making skills and coping strategies?
    include activities related to life skill development (e.g., financial literacy, health and wellness)?
  3. offer activities for students to engage in service learning, internships, or apprenticeships?
  4. offer opportunities for students to make choices among activities based on student interest?
  5. offer opportunities to help students develop confidence in their abilities?

For additional instruments and resources related to improving 21st Century Community Learning Center programs, visit: