Melanie McClintock, Executive Director of the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence, talks to Sonoran Living about the benefits of afterschool programs. (Scroll down to see Melanie McClintock answer more questions about afterschool and out-of-school programs).

Afterschool and out-of-school time programs are becoming increasingly important in a child’s overall development because of their ability to align with and complement learning that goes on in the classroom.

To better understand the depth and breadth of programming, locations, numbers, strengths and weaknesses, a recent survey of out-of-school time programs in Maricopa and Pima counties provided the state’s first-ever broad-based assessment to determine what works, what doesn’t and how best to focus collective efforts to strengthen, expand and build the quality of the programs and the staff.

Young Minds Keep Learning Even After the School Day Ends is the result of a partnership among the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence, the Valley of the Sun United Way, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and the Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

The results were based on responses by 681 program managers and operators to a 55-question on-line survey posted in the fall of 2011.  The survey was designed to measure out-of-school programs regardless of whether they operate before or after school, on weekends or during school and summer breaks.

Among the key overall findings:

  • Nearly two-thirds of the programs (64%) operate during both the academic year and summer months.
  • Public-school based afterschool programs are the most common type (64%) followed by community-based programs (25%) and 21st Century Community Learning Centers (16%).
  • 76 percent of the programs chose “tutoring/academic enrichment” as their top activities followed by “arts and culture” (72%) and “sports and recreation” (66%).
  • 37 percent of the respondents cited “fees” as the biggest barrier to operating at full capacity.  Those programs not charging fees cited “children lose interest” among the biggest barriers.
  • While most programs provide snacks, only 36% offer breakfast and 6% offer dinner.
  • Only 34% use a formal assessment tool to evaluate their program, 24% use informal assessments and 34% use parent surveys, which actually reflect more client satisfaction.
  • While many afterschool programs collaborate on some level with school and district staffs, 67% of respondents expressed a need to strengthen this area.

Melanie McClintock, executive director of the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence, said that many, if not most, afterschool and out-of-time programs have moved beyond simply providing a safe place for children and are focused on specific outcomes.

She added that previous research clearly indicates that the benefits of quality, strategic afterschool programs range from better attendance and higher achievement in school to reduced behavior problems, improved work habits and higher levels of student engagement.

For more information about afterschool youth development programs in Arizona, visit