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Journal Issue: When School Is Out Volume 9 Number 2 Fall 1999

The Role of the School in Children's Out-of-School Time
Joy G. Dryfoos


As the primary community institution in the lives of children, schools have much to contribute to plans for addressing the needs of today's youngsters during the time when classes are not being held. In recent years, demands have escalated for after-school child care, educational enrichment, and safe havens that also foster positive youth development. Many programs that respond to these needs are housed in school buildings. Some are operated by the schools, some by community-based organizations, and others by partnerships between schools and outside groups. New public funding for after-school programs often flows through the school system. This article reports the prevalence of school-based programs and discusses extracurricular activities, child care and extended-day programs, enrichment programs, and ambitious efforts to transform the schools into full-time community hubs offering something for residents of all ages. Implementation challenges accompany program expansion, and this article also examines major issues that arise in school-based programs: governance, space, program quality, funding, and accountability. If these programs fulfill their promise, the school of the future may, indeed, be open extended hours for the enrichment of the children and the sustenance of the family.