Critical Indicators Program Start

The following indicators are critical to program start-up, and should be prioritized if you are just beginning a program. You can also download a start-up checklist based off of these indicators. If your program is already underway, view the full list of elements and indicators here.

Indicators & Performance Levels

(Click on the indicator to expand the performance level examples, or download the full set of indicators and performance levels here.)

Performance Levels
Rate your program in each of the indicators using the following system:

1 Must Address and Improve / Standards Not Met
2 Some Progress Made / Approaching Standard
3 Satisfactory / Meets Standards
4 Excellent / Exceeds Standards

Organizations are expected to strive for a satisfactory performance level (3) on all of the quality indicators.

Over time, programs should continue to strive for an excellent performance level (4).

Environment and Climate

Provides a stimulating, welcoming, and supportive environment for young people.

Performance Level 1
Staff members do not greet youth as they arrive and make little or no effort to establish a personal connection with youth. There are no signs or posters in the program space. Youth have no opportunities for decision-making or to voice questions and concerns. Activities are not always facilitated by staff members, leading to unstructured activities during which students disengage. Youth sometimes end up disinterested in participating and staff members do not encourage them to join activities.

Performance Level 2
Staff members try to greet youth as they arrive if they are available to do so. There are a few signs directing participants to the program space, but no signs or posters otherwise. Although there is no formal way for participants to voice questions and concerns, staff members listen to youth when they are approached to talk. Activities are usually facilitated by staff members, but youth who are disinterested in participating are not encouraged to join activities. Activities are not reorganized in order to capture disinterested youth.

Performance Level 3
A staff member is designated as a greeter. Staff members ensure the space is decorated with signs and posters, and have regular check-ins with participants to make sure they feel comfortable in the program space. Youth have several informal opportunities to provide their input about activities. Activities are always facilitated by a staff member, who is charged with explaining and monitoring activities. Youth who seem disinterested in the activities are encouraged to participate. Differentiated activities allow participation options for those youth disinterested in what is being offered.

Performance Level 4
A staff member is designated as a greeter; the greeter checks each participant in and ensures that they find the activity that they would like to join. Staff members ensure the space is decorated with signs and posters and have a daily check-in with participants to make sure they feel comfortable in the program space. Youth have both formal and informal opportunities to provide input about activities. A staff member is charged with explaining activities and engaging others who might want to join. Youth who seem disinterested in the activities being offered are told more about each activity or provided with variations on the activity and are encouraged to try them.

Uses program space that is safe and clean.

Performance Level 1
The program space is rarely or never cleaned, as evidenced by un-emptied trash, dust, etc. Facilities, furniture, and other materials are not checked to ensure that they are safe and free from hazards. The program provider and program host are unclear as to who is responsible for facilities maintenance. Emergency supplies are not adequate or accessible.

Performance Level 2
The program space is cleaned when staff members have the time to do so. Facilities, furniture, and other materials are checked for safety on an ad hoc basis. The program provider and program host are not clear as to who is responsible, but make an informal effort to keep space clean. Emergency supplies are accessible, but do not adequately provide what the program needs in most emergency situations.

Performance Level 3
The program space is regularly cleaned both by program staff and professional janitors or cleaning staff. Facilities, furniture, and other materials are routinely checked and maintenance is performed when necessary. The program provider and program host are clear as to who is responsible for the maintenance of the space. Emergency supplies are accessible and provide what the program needs in most emergency situations, and several staff members are trained in how to use them.

Performance Level 4
The program space is regularly cleaned at the end of each day. Facilities, furniture, and other materials are frequently checked and maintenance is performed when necessary. The site director routinely conducts a walk through of the program space and uses a facilities check-list to ensure that all aspects of the space are clean and safe. A partnership agreement between the program provider and program host clearly states who will handle the cleaning of the space, and these partners are aware of and abide by the agreement. Emergency supplies are accessible and adequately provide what the program needs in possible emergency situations, and all staff members are trained in how to use them.

Develops, implements, and shares approved safety plans and procedures with staff and families.

Performance Level 1
The program has no formal safety plan. The program has no connection to their program host’s safety plan.
No plan is posted or reviewed with other staff or participants.

Performance Level 2
The program has developed a written safety plan, but it is not posted or shared. Staff members are aware of the program host’s safety plan, but they are not connected to it. Staff members take responsibility for the safety of participants, but are mostly unaware of the official procedures outlined in the plan or other requirements such as reporting of “violent incidents” or fire drill protocols.

Performance Level 3
The program has developed a written safety plan. The program has connected the program host’s safety plans to the needs of the program and there are provisions for the program in the host’s plan. The safety plan is posted throughout the program space and is pointed out to participants, staff, and families. Staff members are aware of the procedures and know what to do in case of an emergency, and they know what the official procedures and incident reporting requirements are.

Performance Level 4
The program has developed a written safety plan, which is updated annually. The program has made a connection to the host’s safety planning committee and plays a role in that committee. The safety plan is posted throughout the program space, sent to each participants’ home, and is discussed with participants, staff, and families. Staff members are trained during their orientation on safety procedures and incident reporting requirements, and they are prepared to handle an emergency.

Provides adequate security for program.

Performance Level 1
No security is provided for the program. The program has no formal connection to the program host’s
security. Participants are usually supervised by an adult, but occasionally are left unsupervised for short
periods of time.

Performance Level 2
Security is informally handled by staff members. Staff members must monitor the safety of program participants and monitor external guests. The program host’s security does not assist with visitors. Participants are always supervised by an adult, but occasionally the adult is a family or community member who does not work for the program.

Performance Level 3
The program employs a security guard during program hours. During staff orientation, staff members are taught how to ensure the security of the program, including keeping participants safe and monitoring external guests. The program is formally included in the program host’s security efforts (e.g., safety agents patrol the halls during and after the program). Participants are always supervised by an approved adult according to all applicable regulations and program policies.

Performance Level 4
The program employs a security guard during program hours. During staff orientation, staff members are taught how to ensure the security of the program, including keeping participants safe and monitoring external guests. A security plan was developed by staff members, the security guard, participants, families, and others that addresses what to do in the case of different emergencies. The program host seamlessly incorporate the program into all its security procedures. Participants are always supervised by multiple, approved adults according to all applicable regulations and program policies.

Develops and manages effective arrival and dismissal procedures and plans for safe travel home.

Performance Level 1
There is no formal procedure for arrival and dismissal. Staff members do not track participants’ arrival to and departure from the program. Staff members sometimes leave the site before all the participants have left. Staff members are unaware of how participants’ transportation needs are met.

Performance Level 2
Most staff members follow an informal procedure to generally track participants’ arrival to and departure from the program. Staff members remain at the site until every participant has left.

Performance Level 3
The site director creates and implements a formal set of arrival and dismissal procedures. Staff members are aware of these procedures and check participants in and out each day. Staff members remain at the site until every participant has left, and staff members are mostly aware of how participants travel home.

Performance Level 4
The site director creates and implements a formal set of arrival and dismissal procedures in consultation with staff members, participants, and families. Staff members are trained during orientation on these procedures. Staff members check participants in and out each day, and these records are kept with other attendance information. Staff members are aware of participants’ transportation arrangements and ensure that every participant begins their travel home safely.

Provides healthy and nutritious snacks and/or supper.

Performance Level 1
Participants may choose to bring their own snack or supper, but food is not provided by the program. Therefore, not every participant has a snack and food is not regulated by staff members.

Performance Level 2
A snack or supper is provided on some days. Food options are based on what is readily available with limited selection, and not with consideration of healthy options.

Performance Level 3
A snack or supper is provided daily. Staff members try to have several options available for participants to choose from. Snacks and supper offerings are usually healthy and nutritious.

Performance Level 4
A healthy snack or supper is provided every day. Participants have several options to choose from, and the snack or supper menu is rotated. Special consideration is given to include a variety of nutrients, and to exclude foods that youth are commonly allergic to, such as peanuts.

Is aware of, records, and informs staff of special health needs of participants.

Performance Level 1
The program requires medical forms. No tracking is done to ensure completed records of participants are received. Forms that are submitted are kept on file but rarely used. Therefore, staff members are not always aware of the special health needs of participants.

Performance Level 2
The program requires medical forms and tracking is done to ensure all forms are received. Forms are kept on file and are reviewed if there is a medical concern or emergency. No review of forms is done to make the staff aware of special needs. Staff members may only become aware of the issue during an emergency that prompts them to review a participant’s form.

Performance Level 3
The program requires medical forms and receives them from each participant. Forms are reviewed by staff members and special health needs are flagged; forms are then kept on file. Staff members are informed of relevant special health needs of participants, such as food allergies, at the beginning of each year. Adjustments are made to the program design as necessary based on participants’ health needs. Any information shared with staff members is done so in consideration of confidentiality rules.

Performance Level 4
The program requires medical forms and receives them from each participant. Forms are reviewed by staff members and by a nurse or health specialist and special health needs are flagged; forms are then kept on file. Staff members are informed of relevant special health needs of participants, such as food allergies, at the beginning of each year, and again in the middle of the year. Adjustments are made to the program design as necessary based on participants’ health needs. The site director or other staff members maintains relationships with school nurses to receive updates on participants’ health needs as they change. Any information shared with staff members is done so in consideration of confidentiality rules.

Administration and Organization

Establishes clear attendance and participation expectations.

Performance Level 1
Although participants are expected to regularly attend the program, there is no verbal or written policy on attendance and participation.

Performance Level 2
Participants are told in the beginning of the year that they are expected to regularly attend the program. A written policy exists but is not distributed to participants or families.

Performance Level 3
Participants are provided with a written policy regarding attendance in the beginning of the year. The policy is posted in the program space. Staff members encourage participants to share the written policy to their families.

Performance Level 4
Participants are told in the beginning of the year that they are expected to regularly attend the program, and are asked to give feedback on this policy. A copy of the written policy is distributed to families at the program orientation session and posted in the program space. Staff members follow up with participants who do not regularly attend the program.

Maintains all required documents (e.g., health certificate, security clearance, insurance, etc.) where applicable.

Performance Level 1
The site director does not keep files current. Documents are not always renewed on time and may have expired. Staff members are not familiar with the required documents and are unaware of where the records are kept.

Performance Level 2
The site director has all required documents and maintains files for each of them, although some files may be out of date. Documents are usually renewed on time. Some staff members are familiar with the required documents, but most are not informed of their location.

Performance Level 3
The site director has all required documents and maintains up-to-date files for each of them. Documents are always renewed on time. Staff members are familiar with the required documents, know where they are kept, and they are generally able to answer questions about the documents if asked by families or inspectors.

Performance Level 4
The site director has all required documents and maintains up-to-date files for each of them. Documents are always renewed on time. Staff members are trained on what documents are required and why they are required to maintain program safety and to protect youth. Staff members always know where the documents are kept, and they are always able to answer questions about them if asked by families or inspectors.

Creates and uses an employee handbook that clarifies internal policies and procedures.

Performance Level 1
No employee handbook exists. No formal policy review is done for staff. Policies and procedures are reviewed when an issue arises.

Performance Level 2
An employee handbook outlining internal policies and procedures exists but is not complete and/or is not updated. The handbook is available at the program site for staff members to review. Staff members are not given copies or any formal review of the handbook.

Performance Level 3
An employee handbook outlining internal policies and procedures is given to each new staff member. Staff members are encouraged to review the handbook. The manual is updated regularly and reviewed to ensure that it covers all relevant topics.

Performance Level 4
An up-to-date, comprehensive employee handbook outlining internal policies and procedures is given to each new staff member during their orientation. Staff members are encouraged to review the handbook. A site director or other staff member formally reviews the handbook with new staff members and allows time for them to ask questions regarding policies.

Has complete and current enrollment/registration documents for all participants.

Performance Level 1
Youth are permitted to participate without formal registration. Therefore, not all participants fill out a registration document, and the program does not have an accurate enrollment list. Incomplete documents are not sent back to families for completion, so the program does not always have complete information about participants. The enrollment form does not include all necessary components such as permission for emergency medical care.

Performance Level 2
Participants are accepted into the program when they complete a registration document, and staff members follow-up with youth to ensure their form is received. The program has an accurate enrollment list. Incomplete documents are not sent back to families for completion, so the program does not always have complete information about each participant. The enrollment form may not include all necessary components such as permission for emergency medical care.

Performance Level 3
Participants are accepted into the program when they complete a registration document, and staff members follow-up with youth to ensure their form is received. The program has an accurate enrollment list. Incomplete documents are sent back to families for completion prior to the beginning of the year, so the program always has full information about each participant. The enrollment form includes all necessary components such as permission for emergency medical care.

Performance Level 4
Participants are accepted into the program when they complete a registration document, and staff members follow-up with youth to ensure their form is received. Staff members also contact families who expressed interest in the program but never registered. The program has an accurate enrollment list that includes all required information. Incomplete documents are sent back to families for completion prior to the beginning of the year, so the program always has full information about each participant. If the document is not returned, program staff members follow up with the family and assist them with completing the document.

Has a clear salary structure for program staff.

Performance Level 1
The program does not have a salary structure for staff. Salary decisions are made based on informal criteria and positions are frequently created to conform to existing staff.

Performance Level 2
The site director uses a salary structure which is unwritten and rarely explained to staff. Salary decisions are often made according to this structure.

Performance Level 3
The program has a salary structure that is written in a policy handbook. Salary decisions are always made according to this structure.

Performance Level 4
The program has a salary structure that is written in a policy handbook. Salary decisions are always made according to this structure. The salary structure outlines entry-level, middle management, and leadership position salaries, as well as the factors that may affect salary (i.e. level of schooling, years of experience, etc.). Staff is fully aware of this structure, and salary decisions are based on formal criteria.

Has well-defined methods of communication with program stakeholders.

Performance Level 1
Staff members work independently of community organizations, schools, and other stakeholders that are not part of the program. Meetings with stakeholders happen on an ad hoc basis or when there is a crisis.

Performance Level 2
The site director initiates regular meetings with a few local principals and leaders of organizations based on his/her personal contacts. Dates and space for collaborative program activities are targeted but not finalized. There are no formal methods of documentation and there is no regular contact with other stakeholders.

Performance Level 3
The site director has regularly scheduled meetings with local principals and with other community leaders. The site director and other stakeholders have meeting times scheduled for planning and sharing information. As a result, collaboration begins to happen on youth recruitment and funding initiatives. School records are made available to the program and program attendance is shared with schools. Discussions are held among the partners to illustrate youth progress and success, and to identify remaining gaps in services for youth in the program.

Performance Level 4
The site director meets frequently with local school administrators and community leaders to reflect on program accomplishments and future directions. There are shared goals and expectations, and youth are encouraged to enroll in the program by schools and other stakeholders. The site director is actively involved in school leadership teams. The program regularly receives student records from schools and provides program information to schools. If the program wishes to access school buildings or other neighborhood facilities, there is a system for confirming dates and times in advance. Discussions are held among the partners to illustrate youth progress and success, and to identify and fill remaining gaps in services for all youth in the community.

Develops, reviews, and updates plan for family involvement.

Performance Level 1
No plan for family involvement exists. Therefore, family involvement occurs occasionally but is not a deliberate aspect of the program’s design.

Performance Level 2
A plan for family involvement was created by the site director. The plan provides a few opportunities for families to participate, such as attending a program orientation. The plan has not been updated since the program began. Staff members are asked to implement the plan whenever possible.

Performance Level 3
A plan for family involvement was created by the site director, staff members, and family members of participants. The plan includes several types of opportunities for families to participate, such as attending a program orientation, facilitating activities, and assisting with fundraising. The plan has been updated a few times since the program began to respond to community needs. Staff members are asked to implement the plan whenever possible.

Performance Level 4
A comprehensive plan for family involvement was created by the site director, other staff members, and family members. The plan includes several types of opportunities for families to participate, such as attending a program orientation, facilitating activities, assisting with fundraising, and participating in continuous improvement efforts such as regular self-assessment. The plan is regularly updated to respond to community needs and to incorporate feedback from families. Staff members are trained during orientation on the importance of implementing the family involvement plan.

Documents where participants are during program hours.

Performance Level 1
The program does not document where participants are during program hours. Staff members cannot easily locate participants, making it difficult for family members, health staff, or others to find them.

Performance Level 2
The program uses a sign-up form for activities during program hours. When participants change activities, the activity sign-up lists are not updated. Staff members can generally locate participants when activity sign-up lists are accurate.

Performance Level 3
The program documents where participants are during program hours by having staff members take attendance for each activity. The site director collects the attendance logs and keeps them on file. Staff members can always locate participants when necessary.

Performance Level 4
The program documents where participants are during program hours by having staff members take attendance for each activity. The site director collects the attendance logs and reviews them to determine which activities participants attend most, and uses the information to make adjustments to the program. Staff members can always locate participants when necessary.

Relationships

Has staff that respect and communicate with one another and are role models of positive adult relationships.

Performance Level 1
Staff members are disrespectful and/or hostile toward one another. Participants witness disrespectful behavior among staff members. Staff members work in isolation, not as a team. The site director does not facilitate relationship-building among staff members. Participants are not taught to develop and maintain positive relationships, nor are these skills modeled by staff members.

Performance Level 2
Staff members seem to be indifferent to one another. The staff rarely works as a team, and staff members do not take initiative to work together to best serve youth. The site director mediates for staff members when approached regarding a disagreement, but does not take other steps to facilitate relationship-building among staff members. Participants are not taught and seldom see modeling of relationship-building skills by staff.

Performance Level 3
Staff members generally seem to get along and are respectful of one another. The staff works as a team in order to best serve youth. The site director mediates for staff members when approached regarding a disagreement, and follows-up with staff members to ensure the conflict does not affect their work. The site director facilitates relationship-building among staff members by organizing professional development on relationship-building and providing non-work related functions, such as a staff picnic for staff to bond and develop as a team.

Performance Level 4
Staff members always get along, positively work through conflicts, and are respectful of one another. Staff members work as a team and develop strategies for utilizing each others’ skills to best serve youth. The site director provides conflict resolution and negotiation professional development for the staff with direct examples of how to implement techniques. When staff members need additional assistance and cannot resolve conflicts on their own, the site director immediately mediates for them. The site director follows-up with staff members several times to ensure the conflict does not affect their work and that they feel that it is resolved. The site director also convenes a staff committee to plan relationship-building and team-building opportunities for staff members including occasional events, a mentoring program for new staff members, and monthly staff meetings.

Interacts with families in a comfortable, respectful, welcoming way.

Performance Level 1
There is little interaction between families and staff members. Staff members do not welcome families at the program site; they are told to come to the site only when it is time to pick up their child. Family members’ concerns are often dismissed. Family members who are not native-English speakers are not given an opportunity to talk to staff members in their own language.

Performance Level 2
There is some interaction between families and staff members. Staff members welcome families who come to the program site, but they do not specifically invite them to visit other than when it is time to pick up their child. Family members may voice concerns but action is seldom taken. Family members who are not native-English speakers are only given an opportunity to talk to staff members in their own language when there happens to be a staff member who understands their language or when there is a problem with their child.

Performance Level 3
There is frequent interaction between families and staff members. Staff members welcome families, and specifically ask them to come to the program site once a year to learn more about the program and to see their child engaged in activities. Family members’ concerns are taken into consideration whenever possible. The site director hires staff members who are bilingual whenever possible so family members who are not native-English speakers can talk to staff members and so they can develop program materials in multiple languages.

Performance Level 4
There is frequent, regular interaction between families and staff members. Families are regularly made aware that they are always welcome at the program site to see their child engaged in activities and to participate in family activities and programs. Family members’ suggestions, ideas, and concerns are welcomed, requested, documented, and implemented whenever it is possible. The site director hires staff members who are bilingual whenever possible so family members who are not native-English speakers can talk to staff members in their own language. If a family member speaks a language not spoken by any staff member, the site director locates a translator to facilitate dialogue.

Treats participants with respect and listens to what they say.

Performance Level 1
Staff members are often disrespectful to youth and have been observed yelling at youth to get their attention. Staff members frequently interrupt young people who are speaking. Staff members choose to use negative language and negative discipline strategies rather than teaching, supporting, and praising positive behaviors. Young people’s ideas are not taken seriously or are dismissed. The program culture and activities are adult-centered.

Performance Level 2
Staff members multi-task while working with youth and do not make eye contact or individual connections with young people. Staff members seldom call participants by name. There are few opportunities for youth to communicate with staff members and peers about the program, daily experiences, and concerns.

Performance Level 3
A daily “check-in” is incorporated into the program routine as a tool to connect youth with staff members to discuss their strengths, desires, needs, and concerns. Young people contribute to program offerings and to the program’s discipline policies or code of conduct. Participants are valued, trained, supported, and regularly recognized as leaders within the program. A majority of staff members practice a variety of positive discipline techniques and use community-building strategies. Staff members try to make time to connect with youth on an individual basis.

Performance Level 4
Staff members are aware of the strengths and needs of individual youth; a daily “check-in” is incorporated into the program routine. Positive supports and discipline strategies are used throughout the program, and young people contribute to program offerings and to the program’s discipline policies or code of conduct. Most activities are designed with youth input and youth feedback is sought and integrated into the program. The program culture is safe and confidential, which encourages young people to speak freely. Participants are valued, trained, supported, and regularly recognized as leaders within the program. The language and behavior of staff members shows sensitivity to race, ethnicity, sex, gender identification, sexual orientation, and the physical ability of all young people. Staff members have adequate professional development to teach, model, and support cooperation and respect among youth.

Staffing and Professional Development

Has a program director that is committed to his/her own professional development and attends and participates in training.

Performance Level 1
The program director never attends conferences, workshops, or other types of training. The director does not value professional development and does not feel that these types of events are necessary for others to attend. Therefore, the director is not able to bring information from trainings to his/her staff. The director rarely allows staff members to attend professional development events.

Performance Level 2
The program director attends conferences, workshops, or other types of training occasionally, based on when and where they occur. The program director knows there is value in attending professional development events, but often has other tasks to do that are prioritized over attending these events. The program director often does not have time to bring information from trainings to his/her staff.

Performance Level 3
The program director attends conferences, workshops, or other types of training regularly, based on his/her professional development needs. The program director knows there is value in attending professional development events, and conveys their importance by making time to attend them despite having other tasks to do. The program director brings information from trainings to his/her staff when appropriate.

Performance Level 4
The program director attends conferences, workshops, or other types of training regularly, based on his/her professional development needs or the needs of the program’s staff. The program director knows there is value in attending professional development events, and conveys their importance by making time to attend them despite having other tasks to do and allowing staff members to do the same. The program director always brings information from trainings to his/her staff immediately after the event.

Recruits, hires and develops staff who reflect the diversity and culture(s) of the community.

Performance Level 1
Staff members are recruited and hired without consideration of the diversity and cultures of the community.

Performance Level 2
Staff members are recruited and hired from the community and surrounding areas. Therefore, they tend to reflect the diversity and cultures of the community.

Performance Level 3
Staff members are recruited and hired with consideration of the diversity and cultures of the community; recruitment efforts target local professionals. The site director develops a staff representing a variety of ages, races, ethnicities, academic backgrounds, etc. Several staff members can speak the native languages spoken by non-English speaking participants.

Performance Level 4
Staff members are recruited and hired with careful consideration of the diversity and cultures of the community; recruitment efforts target professionals from local schools and organizations, as well as parents, high school students, and volunteers from the community. The site director develops a staff representing a variety of ages, races, ethnicities, academic backgrounds, etc. Several staff members can speak the native languages spoken by non-English speaking participants.

Ensures staff has competence in core academic areas, where appropriate.

Performance Level 1
Staff members are never asked to supply information on their academic experience. The site director does not know which staff members have competencies in core academic areas.

Performance Level 2
Staff members are asked to tell the site director about their academic experience when they are hired. The site director tries to assign staff members to tasks and activities based on their knowledge of core academic areas.

Performance Level 3
Unless seeking specialist positions such as teaching artist or sports coach, staff members must be able to display knowledge of core academic areas during the application and interview process. The site director then assigns staff members to tasks and activities based on their knowledge and experience. During staff observations and evaluations, the site director looks for staff members’ competency and ability to use their knowledge of core academic areas to support participants’ learning.

Performance Level 4
All staff members must be able to display knowledge of core academic areas during the application and interview process. The site director then assigns staff members to tasks and activities based on their knowledge and experience. During staff observations and evaluations, the site director looks for staff members’ competency and ability to use their knowledge of core academic areas to support youth participants learning. The site director regularly follows up with staff members to seek updated information on the academic areas in which they are strong. The site director also holds trainings on core academic areas for all staff members.

Maintains staff-to-participant ratio as per state regulations when applicable.

Performance Level 1
The program does not maintain the staff-to-participant ratio as mandated by state regulations. There are not enough staff members per participant, therefore making it difficult for staff members to keep youth safe and engaged in the program.

Performance Level 2
The program tries to maintain the staff-to-participant ratio as mandated by state regulations. When staff members resign or are let go, there is often a period of time in which the ratio is not maintained. There are not always enough staff members per participant, therefore it is sometimes difficult for staff members to keep youth safe and engaged in the program.

Performance Level 3
The program always maintains the staff-to-participant ratio as mandated by state regulations. The site director ensures that there are always enough staff members per participant, even after a staff member resigns or is let go. There are enough staff members to keep youth safe and engaged in the program at all times.

Performance Level 4
The program always meets the staff-to-participant ratio as mandated by state regulations and generally maintains a lower ratio, allowing each staff member to focus on a small number of youth. The site director ensures that this lower ratio is maintained by having several substitutes ready to fill in if staff members are absent, or if a staff member resigns or is let go. There are always enough staff members to keep youth safe and engaged in the program at all times.

Provides positive working conditions for staff and appropriate supervision, support, and feedback.

Performance Level 1
Program staff members do not participate in staff meetings or trainings. The organization does not have clear expectations for staff performance. Staff members are often reprimanded and are not acknowledged for accomplishments and contributions. An employee handbook and job descriptions are unavailable.

Performance Level 2
Staff meetings happen on an ad hoc basis. There is little awareness of expectations. Issues of concern are discussed, but there is no follow through or planned solutions. Written job descriptions exist but are not shared with staff members.

Performance Level 3
Staff meetings occur regularly. Staff members are engaged when discussing issues and brainstorming solutions about the program. Trainings on basic requirements and youth-related topics are offered. Staff members are familiar with the standards that supervisors hold them to. Program leadership is accessible and follow-up happens often.

Performance Level 4
Staff meetings are scheduled in advance and happen on a regular basis. The site director coaches staff members regularly; he/she meets with each staff member to discuss performance and to set individual professional development goals. There is a clear professional development plan; staff members attend trainings regularly and have opportunities to share strategies learned. Staff members seek out trainings that build skills beyond regulatory requirements and basic topics. Supervisory staff members, including the site director, participate in management training to develop skills to support other staff members’ work.

Programming and Activities

Provides activities that reflect the mission of the program.

Performance Level 1
Activities are selected based on materials, staff members’ interests, and space available.

Performance Level 2
Activities that reflect the program mission are prioritized, but some activities that do not reflect the program mission are offered.

Performance Level 3
The program mission serves as the foundation for all activities selected. Activity and lesson plans include explanations of how the activity supports the program mission.

Performance Level 4
The program mission serves as the foundation for all activities developed and selected. Activity and lesson plans include explanations detailing how the activity supports the program mission. Staff members are encouraged to explain the mission to youth participants and offer rationale and the connectedness of the mission to the program activities. Youth have the opportunity to give feedback on the relationship between the program mission and activities regularly throughout the year.

Features activities that are commensurate with the age and skill level of the participants and enable participants to develop new skills during the program year.

Performance Level 1
Activities are not selected based on the age and skill level of the participants. There is no evidence that participants develop new skills during the program year.

Performance Level 2
Activities are selected with some consideration of the age and skill level of the participants. Staff members are unaware of youth developmental stages. There is some anecdotal evidence that participants develop new skills during the program year.

Performance Level 3
Activities are selected based on the age and skill level of the participants. Staff members consider youth developmental stages when planning activities. There is some research-based and anecdotal evidence that participants develop new skills during the program year. Participants can often select from a number of activities that expose them to new concepts and skill-building opportunities.

Performance Level 4
Participants are broken into small activity groups so activities can be selected and tailored based on the age and skill level of each participant. Staff members consider youth developmental stages when planning activities and monitor participants’ development across stages. There is significant research-based and anecdotal evidence that participants develop new skills during the program year. Participants can always select from a number of activities that expose them to new concepts and skill-building opportunities.

Offers project-based, experiential activities that promote creativity and development of participant self-expression.

Performance Level 1
The program exclusively offers academic activities, such as homework help and math drills, or adult-led activities with no experiential learning opportunities for youth.

Performance Level 2
The program primarily offers academic activities such as homework help and math drills. Non-academic activities are primarily adult-led with few project-based or experiential learning opportunities for youth. While some creative activities are incorporated into the program, they are offered to only some youth or on an irregular basis.

Performance Level 3
The program offers some academic and some experiential learning activities. Both academic and non-academic topics are approached using youth-centered, project-based, and experiential activities. Youth are encouraged to participate in new projects that assist them to build new skills and enhance existing skills. Youth are encouraged to give feedback on projects and activities.

Performance Level 4
The program offers academic and non-academic, youth-centered, project-based, and experiential activities. Youth help to choose projects and activities, as well as the way in which they will be offered. Youth assessments and input assist in the development and selection of skills to build, enhance and maintain. Youth are encouraged to share feedback with staff members regarding how projects and activities built upon and enhanced their strengths and skills and helped them to achieve their goals. Staff members use youth feedback to inform activity planning. Staff members are trained on using teaching methods and youth development strategies that foster engagement, leadership, personal, social, and academic skill development as well as creativity and self-expression.

Offers high quality academic support, including tutoring and/or homework help.

Performance Level 1
The program only includes non-academic activities such as creative arts and/or sports and recreation.

Performance Level 2
The program includes mostly non-academic activities such as creative arts or sports and recreation, but occasionally includes scholastic activities such as science projects. The program provides academic support when participants ask for assistance. Some staff members have the skills or information necessary to provide academic support to participants, but are not trained in this area.

Performance Level 3
The program provides academic support on a regular schedule, including tutoring and homework help. The program schedule includes both academic and non-academic activities, including a variety of activities related to history, art, science, math and technology, languages, and sports and recreation. Staff members must show the ability to support academic learning before they are hired by providing sample lesson plans or demonstrating knowledge of teaching methods. Staff members receive ongoing training on best practices in supporting the academic and cognitive development of youth.

Performance Level 4
The program provides daily, regularly scheduled academic support, including tutoring and homework help. The program schedule includes both academic and non-academic activities, including a variety of activities related to history, art, science, math, and technology, languages, and sports and recreation. Staff members must show the ability to support academic learning before they are hired by providing sample lesson plans or demonstrating knowledge of teaching methods. At least one certified teacher is on staff at all times. Staff members receive ongoing training on best practices in supporting the academic and cognitive development of youth, and selecting developmentally -appropriate activities that support statewide learning standards.

Offers enrichment opportunities in core academic areas as well as in the arts, technology, recreation, and health.

Performance Level 1
The program exclusively offers single activities, such as soccer or painting, which do not directly enrich participants’ academic development.

Performance Level 2
The program offers one or two types of enrichment activities that are not sequential. While these activities may enrich participants’ academic and personal development, they do not address a variety of enrichment areas. Youth who are not interested in the topic being offered seem disengaged.

Performance Level 3
The program offers many types of activities that enrich participants’ academic and personal development in a variety of areas, including core academics, arts, technology, recreation, and health. Several types of enrichment activities are offered each day and over time to appeal to all participants. Therefore, youth are almost always able to choose an activity that appeals to them.

Performance Level 4
The program offers many types of activities that enrich participants’ academic and personal development in a variety of areas, including core academics, arts, technology, recreation, and health. The site director maintains curricula and other resources at the program site to enable staff to effectively lead activities. Several types of enrichment activities are sequenced over time and offered each day to appeal to all participants and build related knowledge and skills. Therefore, youth are almost always able to choose an activity that appeals to them and learn and grow as a result of participation. Staff members are asked to encourage youth to try many types of activities to ensure they are exposed to a variety of enrichment areas.

Includes activities that take into account the language and culture of the participants.

Performance Level 1
Activities are mostly planned without consideration for the language and culture of the participants.

Performance Level 2
Activities are often planned with consideration for the language and culture of the participants. If a participant cannot be engaged in an activity because of a barrier related to language or culture, no alternative is provided.

Performance Level 3
Activities are always planned with consideration for the language and culture of the participants. Because youth can choose their activity, they almost never feel excluded from the program because of a barrier related to language or culture. If a participant feels uncomfortable with an activity, staff members are available to help the participant find an alternative.

Performance Level 4
Activities are always planned with consideration for the language and culture of the participants. Because youth can choose their activity, they never feel excluded from the program because of barriers related to language or culture. The participants’ languages and cultures are often highlighted through activities, therefore allowing participants to showcase themselves throughout the year. Staff members are trained in cultural sensitivity and take it into account from program planning through execution.

Establishes and follows a schedule that is known to all staff, participants, and their families.

Performance Level 1
The activity schedule changes daily and is not posted anywhere for staff, participants, and families to view. Participants are not able to plan their participation in activities before the program starts. There is sometimes confusion about which activities are taking place and where they are being held. Occasional double booking occurs.

Performance Level 2
The activity schedule changes daily and is posted for staff to view. Participants do not see the schedule and are not able to plan their participation in activities before the program starts. Families often need the help of a staff member to locate their child. There is sometimes confusion about which activities are taking place and where they are being held.

Performance Level 3
The activity schedule changes daily and is posted for staff, participants, and families to view each day. Participants are able to plan their participation in activities before the program starts. Families can find their child without the help of a staff member. There is rarely confusion about which activities are taking place and where they are being held.

Performance Level 4
The activity schedule changes daily and a weekly schedule is posted for staff, participants, and families to view at the start of each week. Participants are able to plan their participation in activities for the entire week, and know in advance if activities will span across multiple days. Families can find their child without the help of a staff member. Staff members and youth are aware of which activities are taking place and where they are being held.

Linkages Between Day and Afterschool

Secures commitment of resources (e.g., classroom space, bulletin boards, storage space, computer facilities, and site coordinator’s office) from school principal, when possible.

Performance Level 1
When sharing resources with a school, staff members sometimes lose use of resources with little or no notice when school needs arise.

Performance Level 2
The program has an informal agreement with school(s) for use of resources. Staff members sometimes lose use of resources when school needs arise with little or no notice. The school tends to be apologetic; however, it is acknowledged it could happen again.

Performance Level 3
The school(s) and afterschool program have a formal written and negotiated agreement signed by the principal and site director regarding the commitment of resources. The agreed upon components are communicated to the school staff and program staff at the beginning of the year and at several times throughout the year. Regular communication occurs and problems are immediately addressed to ensure that both school day and afterschool resource needs are met to best support the participants learning and success.

Performance Level 4
The school(s) and afterschool program have a formal written and negotiated agreement signed by the principal and site director regarding the commitment of resources. The agreed upon components are communicated to the school staff and program staff at the beginning of the year and at several times throughout the year. The school staff and program staff work together respectfully to support their unique and shared needs and to ensure all property is cared for and treated with respect for its shared use. Regular communication occurs and problems are immediately addressed to ensure that both school day and afterschool resource needs are met to best support the participants learning and success.

Youth Participation and Engagement

Engages participants with a variety of strategies.

Performance Level 1
Young people are not actively participating in program activities; they are often working independently, distracting the group, or not present. Young people do not practice decision-making skills. Conversations and activities are driven by adults without informing or consulting youth. Program activities and experiences are limited; young people do not make meaningful choices, do not listen to staff and peers, and opportunities to build positive relationships with adults do not exist. Youth do not receive data or information about the program.

Performance Level 2
Staff members continue to believe that young people are not responsible or interested in connecting with adults. The majority of young people are informed of decisions, but not encouraged to share ideas or concerns about activity content. Some staff members discuss how to engage young people through hands-on and diverse learning experiences. Some attempts are made to incorporate youth voice into planning, program design, and recruitment. There is no evidence of young people actively listening to their peers and program staff. Adults usually inform young people of data or information about the program when it becomes available.

Performance Level 3
Adults and youth are working together to plan and organize events. In the majority of activities, young people respond to questions, contribute opinions and ideas, and work in small groups with peers. Staff have administered youth surveys or conducted focus groups to consult youth participants and capture their experiences, feedback, and ideas for program improvement. There is evidence that staff are actively eliciting young people’s opinions, ideas, and concerns for discussions. Young people collect data or information about the program with adults.

Performance Level 4
Young people are trained as facilitators and co-lead activities with staff. Community meetings or check-ins are used to publicly acknowledge youth for their contributions and accomplishments. All young people are practicing leadership skills. All young people are consulted on program decisions, actively listen to their peers and staff, have a variety of meaningful choices to make, and contribute opinions, ideas, and concerns. Young people collaboratively develop and collect data or information about the program with adults. Young people are involved in recruitment and make presentations in neighborhood schools or organizations.

Parent, Family, and Community Partnerships

Involves families in decision making and planning.

Performance Level 1
No formal system is in place to communicate with families. Families are unaware of the option to have a role in decision-making or program planning.

Performance Level 2
Families are supposed to be informed that they are welcome to participate in decision-making and program planning, but very few family members participate because they are unaware of how they can become involved or receive no training on the program or decision-making processes. Most planning meetings take place before the program starts or when family members are not able to easily attend.

Performance Level 3
Families are informed that they are welcome and are encouraged to participate in decision-making or program planning by the site director and staff members. Families are informed when all meetings are approaching, and a dedicated group of family members participate. Training in decision-making and program planning is provided prior to the first meeting or little by little at each meeting. Most planning meetings take place after the program ends or on weekends, when family members are able to attend.

Performance Level 4
Families are frequently informed that they are welcome and are encouraged to participate in decision-making or program planning. Families are personally invited to participate multiple times by the site director and staff members and told that their involvement and input is critical in the overall success of the program. Families are informed, encouraged, and reminded to attend several times in-person, via e-mail and letters, and by youth when meetings are approaching. A dedicated group of family members participate. Staff members continuously reach out to families who have not participated in planning meetings. Most planning meetings take place after the program ends or on weekends, when family members are typically able to attend. The program surveys parents regularly to determine the best times for meetings. Meals, transportation, and childcare are provided during meetings to enable family members to easily participate. Sensitivity is given to the languages spoken by families and translators are made available.

Communicates with families on matters concerning the well-being of the child.

Performance Level 1
No formal system is in place to communicate with families, and communication with families is rare. Families are contacted when problems occur and in cases of emergency.

Performance Level 2
Communication with families occurs occasionally at events such as family orientation sessions and year-end events. Families are also contacted when problems occur and in cases of emergency.

Performance Level 3
Communication with families occurs frequently throughout the year, both at events and one-on-one whenever possible. Communication focuses on the child’s strengths, growth, and challenges. Families are also contacted in cases of emergency and when there are behavioral, social, emotional, or academic matters to discuss.

Performance Level 4
Communication with families occurs frequently and regularly throughout the year, both at events and one-on-one and via e-mail and phone calls. Each family is contacted at least once a year for an update on their child’s development and experience in the program. Communication focuses on the child’s strengths, growth, and challenges and staff members make it known that they care about the child and want to work together with the family towards the child’s success. Families are also contacted in cases of emergency and when there are behavioral, social, emotional, or academic matters to discuss. Staff members encourage families to contact them whenever they have a question, suggestion, or concern about their child.

Program Sustainability and Growth

Has a written statement of mission and goals.

Performance Level 1
The program mission and goals are unclear or have not been written at all.

Performance Level 2
The program has a written statement of mission and goals. The statement is published or shared by request. Staff members and stakeholders are informed of the program’s mission and goals on an ad hoc basis. Few staff members demonstrate awareness of the mission or goals.

Performance Level 3
The program has a clear, written statement of mission and goals. Staff members and stakeholders are informed of the program’s mission and goals and reminded of them regularly; staff members generally demonstrate awareness of them. The program’s mission and goals are posted at the program site.

Performance Level 4
The program has a clearly written mission statement with directly aligned goals to achieve it. Staff members and stakeholders are aware of the program mission and goals and align all activities and actions with the goals and mission. The program’s mission and goals are posted at the program site, and are printed on all program materials such as posters and brochures.

Employs staff who understand and embrace the program’s mission and goals.

Performance Level 1
Staff members are not aware of the program’s mission and goals or disagree with them.
Performance Level 2
Staff members are informed of the program’s mission and goals during or following the hiring process. Staff members are asked to embrace the mission and goals.

Performance Level 3
Staff members clearly define and explain the program’s mission and goals during the hiring and training process and provide a written copy with several examples of them in an employee handbook. Staff members are regularly reminded of the importance of understanding and embracing the mission and goals. Staff members are expected to incorporate the mission and goals into their work. Professional development, supervisor support, and employee performance goals are clearly communicated and linked to the program mission and goals.

Performance Level 4
The program’s mission and goals guide the recruitment and hiring processes. Potential staff members are asked multiple questions regarding experience, qualities, and beliefs that are directly connected to the mission, values, and goals of the organization. Staff members are asked to sign a statement demonstrating their commitment to follow the mission and goals of the organization. Staff members receive a copy of the mission and goals in an employee handbook and they are posted throughout the program space. The site director regularly communicates the importance of understanding, embracing, and demonstrating awareness of the mission and goals. Staff members are expected to incorporate the mission and goals into their work, through daily performance, planned activities, and communications with youth, families, staff members, and supervisors. Staff members are asked to give feedback on the mission and goals and share related best practices on a regular basis.

Measuring Outcomes and Evaluation

Develops and/or plans for program evaluation that includes gathering both qualitative and quantitative data.

Performance Level 1
Program evaluation occurs but is not a planned process; instead, evaluations are informal and occur irregularly. Evaluations are not consistent over time. Therefore, there is no comparable data for program stakeholders to review.

Performance Level 2
The site director develops a plan for program evaluation. The plan includes collecting only qualitative or quantitative data. The collection methods used are informal, and the site director is solely responsible for gathering data.

Performance Level 3
The site director develops a plan for program evaluation with input from staff and stakeholders. The plan includes collecting both qualitative and quantitative data, and includes all data necessary to report to funders, parents, and other stakeholders. The site director and other staff members use surveys and observations to gather data. The evaluation plan includes a system for using evaluation results, which includes reviewing results prior to and during program planning and while shaping management and operational practices.

Performance Level 4
The site director partners with staff members and stakeholders to develop a plan for ongoing program evaluation. The plan includes collecting both qualitative and quantitative data, and includes all data necessary to report to funders, parents, and other stakeholders, as well as youth development outcomes, academic and cognitive development outcomes, and observable and non-observable aspects of program management and operations. The site director and other staff members use surveys, observations, self-assessment, and other means to gather data, which is then stored in electronic and paper files. The evaluation plan includes a system for using evaluation results to improve the program and inform program decisions.