The Cost of Quality Out-of-School-Time Programs

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The Wallace Foundation

Community decision makers in need of a comprehensive guide to wisely investing in out-of-school-time (OST) programs may have a new bible. The Wallace Foundation has released a cost study analysis that breaks down the components and prices of quality OST programs, providing findings specific to a wide range of program types.

The study, compiled by The Finance Project and Public/Private Ventures, analyzed 111 OST programs from six major U.S. cities, finding the costs for effective programs range widely depending on such factors as the size, age-group, local conditions and level of academic focus of the program. For instance, the study reported that larger programs tend to have lower average costs than smaller ones, but only until a certain point at which the size required more staff. Researchers also learned that programs for younger participants had lower average costs if they combined academic and recreational activities rather than focused on one activity alone, or if they were run by the school or school district rather than by a community group.

Programs were considered high quality if they had high attendance rates, low staff-to-youth ratios, highly qualified staff and leadership opportunities for older youths. 

The cost study is intended to provide communities with a close approximation of how much a specific type of OST program would cost based on the area's specific needs, and includes a cost calculator to tailor cost estimates to a particular city and program.  For instance, the average hourly cost per slot, or cost to fund one more child into the program, for teen programs was $10, with the bulk of the programs ranging between $4 and $12 a slot per hour.  Free, 106 pages. (212) 251-9700,