A Labor of Love in Out-of-school Time Creates Opportunities to Bring Together Children and Families

Content Contributor: Andrea Hurtado, Quality Advisor, Prime Time

Primary Learning Academy Afterschool Program in Boca Raton, participant of Palm Beach County’s Quality Improvement System, was one of many programs that hosted a fall festival this October organized by afterschool staff. Families joined the event to set up their own “trunk or treat” stations resulting in lines of parents/guardians greeting children as they visited each trunk to grab snacks in their festive costumes.

“We start planning every year around early August by getting quotes from several companies, collecting supplies as they go, and adding new activities each year. We let our parents know about the event by making flyers for the kids to send home, sending out reminders in our parent communication app, and telling the parents each day leading up to the event.” –  Afterschool Director, Primary Learning Academy Afterschool Program

Programs that actively involve families are able to help their kids more because positive family engagement is related to improved academic and developmental youth outcomes. Effective family engagement is more than an occasional potluck, however. It is a sustained positive relationship involving clear communication with mutual responsibility and respect. Afterschool programs, in particular, provide opportunities for family involvement outside of the typical school day and may even boost student participation and achievement in the classroom (IRE 2003, NIOST 2006).

“I have noticed it has taken almost two years to offer hands-on family engagement. We saw for some time, a limitation to what was being offered because of the regulations COVID had on group settings. Family engagement is essential, I’m so happy to see all of the smiling faces.” – Andrea Hurtado, Quality Advisor, Prime Time

“I tell them (parents) when to come, and they are here for us no matter what”. – Afterschool Director, Primary Learning Academy Afterschool Program

Here are ideas curated by That After School Life to help afterschool programs plan regular family nights. 18 Family Night Ideas for After School Programs – That After School Life


Institute for Responsive Education (IRE), Brigham Nahas Research Association (2003). Family Participation in After-School Study

National Institute for Out-of-School Time (NIOST), (2006). Making the Case: A fact sheet on children and youth in out-of-school time, Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College

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