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Quality Standards

Quality Standards

Quality Standards

Afterschool programs play a critical role in helping students succeed, keeping young people safe, and supporting working families. You work hard to provide youth with a safe, nurturing environment where they learn, grow, try new things – and ultimately thrive. The ND Quality Standards for Out-of-School Time Programs and Program Self-Assessment Tool is designed to acknowledge the work afterschool programs do and help take your program to the next level.

Developed by a diverse group of stakeholders and supported by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, the Standards are organized into four domains: Health & Safety, Relationships & Interactions, Youth-Centered Program Design, and Leadership & Management.

The Quality Standards and Program Self-Assessment Tool are applicable to all types of afterschool, summer, and community programs serving youth of all ages (grades K – 12) and may be used in conjunction with other formal and informal evaluation methods to help programs identify strengths and needs and inform continuous improvement efforts and plans.

Overview: Using the ND Quality Standards for Out-of-School Time Programs

Video not playing? Access it on the Network’s YouTube Channel. 

Step 1. Get to Know the Quality Standards

ND Quality Standards for Out-of-School Time Programs are grouped into 4 Domains:


We’ve all heard the phrase “safety first.” That applies to afterschool and summer learning programs, too. To learn, grow and thrive, youth need a space that is safe and promotes their well-being. Same goes for youth workers and program staff – we need to keep them safe, too.


When programs create an environment that is truly welcoming for all – youth, families, staff, and visitors – and when relationships are deep and authentic, we’re best poised to meet students’ needs. Being intentional about our relationships and interactions will foster a safe, nurturing setting where youth can try new things, get extra support, and be inspired to be their best selves.


We know our programs aren’t something we do “to” or “for” youth, but rather with youth. Add in a high-quality learning environment plus program activities that speak directly to students’ needs and you’ve got the recipe for a program that really accelerates young people’s academic, social, and emotional learning.


An effective program starts with a strong foundation. It’s easy to get caught up in meeting the day-to-day needs of youth and forget to look inward on a regular basis. When our administrative practices are solid, and our staff is well supported, our programs are better prepared to help students thrive.


Recording: Using the ND Quality Standards for Out-of-School Time Programs; August 16, 2022

Step 2. Get to Know the Program Self-Assessment Tool

Program Self-Assessment & Action Plan User Guide

The Program Self-Assessment Tool is designed to assist out-of-school time programs at any stage of development, appraise your progress in four quality domains, and to promote relevant training and other strategies for continuous quality improvement. Programs will complete a reflective Action Plan while completing the Program Self-Assessment to set and assess progress toward goals. 

As you begin your self-assessment, it is important to understand best practices in running a high-quality afterschool program. Having systems in place to complete the assessment, establish meaningful and intentional goals, and implement the goals is essential to quality improvement. 

Reflection Questions for each domain include:

  • How can we improve in this area?
  • What are some easy things we can do right away?
  • What changes do we need to work on long term?
  • What resources, supports, or partnerships can help us?

Action Plan Questions include:

  • What are your top two goals after reflecting on your program site’s self-assessment ratings?
  • What actions you will take to meet each of these two goals?
  • What materials, resources, and/or support will you need to meet these goals? Who will be responsible for securing these resources?
  • How will you know if you are successful in meting these goals?

NOTE: The Program Self-Assessment Tool is a resource to assess if programs are utilizing best practices and to help identify strategies to implement best practices not currently in place. The Quality Standards and Program Self-Assessment is NOT a report and is best utilized if viewed as an opportunity to identify areas for improvement. There is no penalty or negative impact if a program site ranks themselves low in any indicator area, but programs will have a better understanding of needs and the ND Afterschool Network will be able to provide better support to programs throughout the year. It is not the expectation that every program has every best practice in place. 

Recording: Using the ND Quality Standards for Out-of-School Time Programs; August 16, 2022

Step 3. Select Your Review Team

Select your Program Self-Assessment Review Team.

Include at least 3 to 5 stakeholders as part of your Program Self-Assessment Review Team at each program site. Each person will bring their own knowledge and experience. It is ok if a team member only has strong knowledge of a certain domain. Consider including stakeholders from the following groups:

  • Program Site Staff
  • School Day Teachers
  • Organization Administration
  • School Administration 
  • Community/Business Partner
  • Parents/Guardians
  • Program Volunteers
  • Youth/Participants

Step 4. Complete Program Self-Assessment

You may decide a process for completing your Self-Assessment based on your program. Possible options include:

  • Assign one or more of the four quality standard domains to Review Team members to complete on their own. Then meet to go over individual ratings and come to a consensus for a rating on each indicator.
  • Complete the Program Self-Assessment together as a full Review Team and come to a consensus on a rating for each indicator. You may choose to meet multiple times to focus on certain domains or complete all four domains in one longer planning session.

Program Self-Assessment & Action Plan results will need to be entered into the online submission form. You can enter your results directly into the online submission form as you complete the self-assessment, OR you may access a printable/fillable PDF version here.

NOTE: Regardless of which option you choose, Program Self-Assessment & Action Plan results will need to be entered in the online submission form. A copy of the results can be emailed to you upon submission. 

Step 5. Submit Your Self-Assessment Results Here

Submit the Program Self-Assessment and Action Plan below. 

NOTE: All fields are required and you will not be able to move on to the next page until all entries are complete. You have the option of saving and returning to the form and can receive an email of your results after submission. 

Submit Your Program Self-Assessment

Resources Aligned with Quality Standards

Access resources including information, tools, and templates aligned with each of the four Quality Domains:

  • Health & Safety
  • Relationships & Interactions
  • Youth-Centered Program Design
  • Leadership & Management
Access Resources

Contact the Network if you are looking for additional resources, tools, or trainings.

Are you a ND 21CCLC Program? Find Grant Requirements Here

ND 21st CCLC has adopted the ND Quality Standards for Out-of-School Time Programs for the 2022-2023 school year. The Program Self-Assessment and Action Plan is intended for each 21st CCLC program to engage in a thoughtful review of program quality with stakeholders. A continuous quality improvement process will assist with goal setting and planning for future programming.

Each 21CCLC program site will take and submit the Program Self-Assessment twice per year (Fall submission by October 10th, 2022 and Spring submission by April 30, 2023). Results will be reported to the ND Afterschool Network to help direct the technical assistance team in creating meaningful and relevant professional development. The Program Self-Assessment is NOT meant to be used as an external judgment tool for identifying “good” or “bad” programs. NDDPI will not use it as a punitive tool. Rather, the Program Self-Assessment tool will be used as a way for programs to highlight areas and practices that are strong and identify areas needing to be strengthened.

NDDPI will receive confirmation of which sites have completed the Self-Assessment and Action Plan by the deadline (Fall submission by October 10th, 2022). Once all program site information is submitted for each 21CCLC grantee, NDDPI will receive an overview of ratings for that grantee, but will not receive individual site assessment scores.

21CCLC program sites will fall into TARGETED SUPPORTS (new 21CCLC grantee sites, high-risk sites as determined by NDDPI, and self-selected sites) or UNIVERSAL SUPPORTS (all 21CCLC program sites).   Find the 2022-2023 Yearly Timeline for TARGETED & UNIVERSAL Supports here.

NDDPI 21st CCLC Grantee Program Information

Mid-Year Data Report: ND 21CCLC Quality Standards & Coaching, January 2023

ND Afterschool Professional Learning Community 2022-2023

ND Afterschool Network will host a monthly, virtual series during the 2022 – 2023 school year for afterschool professionals across the state to connect, assess current practice, and gain new perspectives on how to integrate best practices into your work.

Framed by the ND Quality Standards for Out-of-School Time Programs, each session will have a timely, focused topic relevant to the out-of-school time field and allow for time to share experiences, to build networks with peers and experts, to develop skills that help your professional trajectory, and to engage in continuous quality improvement in your out-of-school time program. The portion of the session featuring content or a guest speaker will be recorded and available for future viewing. The rest of the session will not be recorded and provide a neutral, supportive space to connect with one another.

This series is designed for any out-of-school time professional working with youth PreK – grade 12 across the state of North Dakota. Any level of program staff and any type of out-of-school time program is welcome: 21CCLC, community-based, faith-based, club-based, summer camp, school-age licensed childcare, director, site coordinator, teacher, youth professional, etc.

NOTE: ND 21CCLC grantee program sites who are receiving TARGETED SUPPORTS (new 21CCLC sites, high-risk sites, and self-selected sites) are required to attend at least 5 of the 10 sessions. Any staff is welcome, but content will be geared toward site directors. 

You can join one session or join them all! You determine what will meet your needs the best. Participants will have the opportunity to provide input on future session topics.

2022 – 2023 Sessions:
All sessions held via Zoom from 10:00 – 11:00am CT

September 14: Advocacy – Afterschool Alliance will join us to share tips, tools, and resources to help you tell your program’s story by incorporating youth voice and sharing information with key stakeholders, families, schools, and policymakers through the upcoming Lights on Afterschool. (Focus: Youth-Centered Program Design; Leadership & Management)

October 26: Action Plans & SMART Goals – Session will focus on developing strong and meaningful action plans & SMART goals based on the ND Quality Standards Self-Assessment ratings.

November 9: Afterschool Health & Safety Considerations (Focus: Health & Safety)
December 14: Meaningful Youth Voice (Focus: Youth-Centered Program Design)
January 11: Onboarding & Professionalism of OST Staff (Focus: Leadership & Management)
February 8: Planning for a Successful Summer
March 8: Meaningful Family Engagement in OST
April 12: Overview of School-Age Licensing in ND
May 10: Afterschool Funding in ND
June 14: Quality Standards Feedback Session

Register for sessions, access recordings, and find resources shared during each session here.