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City Profile and Statistics

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Since 1999, Baltimore has been engaged in a systems-building effort to expand the number and improve the quality of out-of-school time opportunities available to all city youth.

Under the umbrella of Baltimore's After School Strategy, three intermediary organizations have worked together to build an infrastructure to support after-school program expansion and quality improvement. Each of the three organizations has taken the lead in the area that most closely fits with their respective mission and goals. The Safe and Sound Campaign leads advocacy, strategy development and evaluation efforts. The Family League of Baltimore City focuses on fund allocation to programs, contract management and performance monitoring. The After School Institute, founded by the Strategy, supports quality improvement through training, technical assistance and provider networking.

After School Strategy partners set out to assure accountability, asses the degree to which the Strategy is meeting its goals and build the case for sustainability. In order to do this, the partners have established quality standards for programs. They have built a system to collect participant enrollment and attendance data. In addition, they have commissioned external evaluations of strategy effectiveness, program quality and youth outcomes.

Quality Standards

Developed in 1999, these standards govern the physical environment and safety of programs, as well as the level of staff and student engagement in activities.

The Family League of Baltimore City – the contract arm of the After School Strategy – conducts biannual performance observations of each program site using the After School Observation Instrument (ASOI), a tool designed by Policy Studies Associates, which is linked to the standards. The Family League shares its findings with The After-School Institute (TASI), which develops a technical assistance plan for individual sites based on the Family League's observations. Representatives from TASI assist programs in implementing their recommendations. Consistently underperforming sites may loose funding in the following year.

Tracking Youth Participation

In addition to conducting observations, The Family League requires that program sites input attendance data and demographic information into The After-School Strategy's web-based Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) program. These data are used to gauge the degree to which programs are meeting their contract obligations for the number of youth served. They also serve as the base file for evaluation activities on youth outcomes (described below).

Research and Evaluation

Baltimore's After School Strategy contracts with external evaluators to assess strategy effectiveness, program quality and youth outcomes. In 1999, the Strategy contracted with Policy Studies Associates, which from 1999 to 2002 developed a number of tools and instruments that are still in use today. These include a prototype of the ETO data system, youth, staff and site manager surveys and the ASOI. In 2002, Dr. Eric Bruns, then of the University of Maryland Medical Systems, coordinated evaluation activities and conducted the first systematic match of after school strategy program participants with Baltimore City Public School System attendance and performance data. Since 2004, Dr. Brenda Neuman-Sheldon has collected and analyzed data on The Strategy's impact.

TASI has also secured independent evaluation funding. In 2005, TASI received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which allowed TASI to publish a report, A Drum Major for The After-School Field, that evaluated its professional development system. In 2007, TASI received a grant from the Open Society Institute that will allow the organization to assess and enhance its training and technical assistance services.