2022 Edition

Out-of-School Time Services (CA-OST) 19: Supervision

The organization ensures the safety of children and youth by providing sufficient and appropriate supervision at all times, including on field trips away from the program site.


Viewing: CA-OST 19 - Supervision



Children and youth who participate in Out-of-School Time programs gain the personal, social, emotional, and educational assets needed to support healthy development, increase well-being, and facilitate a successful transition through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or 
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.      
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Program ratio
  • Procedures for providing adequate supervision, including for coverage during breaks, absences, emergencies, etc.
  • Policy governing one-on-one interactions between personnel and children/youth
  • Procedures governing one-on-one interactions between personnel and children/youth
  • Procedures for arrivals and dismissals
  • Staffing chart for the previous six months
  • Attendance records showing daily totals and weekly averages
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Children, youth, and families
  • Observe supervision at different times of day and during different activities
  • Observe arrivals and dismissals
  • Review files of children and youth

Fundamental Practice

CA-OST 19.01

The ratio of personnel to children and youth in the program is based on the ages and abilities of children and youth, and is: 
  1. between 1:10 and 1:15 when all children and youth are age six and older; and
  2. between 1:8 and 1:12 when the program includes children under age six.


This standard is intended to address the ratio of personnel to children and youth in a program as a whole, rather than for a particular room or group of children and youth. In other words, a program with 60 participants age six and over would need at least four staff members to meet the program ratio specified in the standard. However, the organization would not need to ensure that there was at least one adult present in every group of 15 children and youth. For example, while one adult might be supervising a group of 19 youth doing line dancing, another adult might be helping a group of 11 youth with their homework.

To be included in the program ratio, staff must be present with, and directly supervising, children and youth. It is also important to note that the ratio must be maintained at all times – if certain staff will periodically leave the organization (e.g., to pick up more children), they should not be counted in the ratio. Non-teaching staff (e.g., front desk staff, custodians, food service personnel, and bus drivers) should also not be counted in the ratio. Volunteers should not be included in this ratio unless they meet personnel qualifications and have a regular, ongoing role at the program.

It may be appropriate for there to be more personnel, and higher ratios of personnel to children and youth, when personnel work with children and youth with special needs, or with groups that consist entirely of kindergarteners.

Fundamental Practice

CA-OST 19.02

Personnel plan for and provide different levels of supervision according to: 
  1. the type, complexity, and level of risk or difficulty of activities; and
  2. the ages, abilities, developmental levels, and needs of children and youth.


Ratios of personnel to children/youth should be higher when projects involve potentially dangerous activities or equipment (e.g., cooking, carpentry, leatherworking, swimming, gymnastics, biking, sledding, or skating), or when children and youth are learning a new or difficult skill. In some cases it may be necessary for personnel who supervise potentially risky activities to receive specialized training, as determined by industry safety standards. Extra adults should also be present on field trips that are difficult to supervise (e.g., trips to amusement parks, beaches, ski areas, or campgrounds). Ratios should not typically exceed 1:25, for any type of activity.  
Similarly, group sizes should typically be smaller when projects involve potentially dangerous activities or equipment, or when children and youth are learning a new or difficult skill. Groups may be larger for activities such as sports, art, reading, or board games, but should not typically exceed 30 children/youth, except for activities such as outdoor play, performances, or assemblies (as long as adequate supervision is provided).

Fundamental Practice

CA-OST 19.03

The organization implements a supervision system that: 
  1. enables personnel to know where children and youth are, and what they are doing, at all times;
  2. allows personnel to see and/or hear all the children and youth they are supervising;
  3. includes special provisions for monitoring children and youth who have permission to be out of sight;
  4. protects younger children when they move from place to place or use the restroom;
  5. enables children and youth to access help at all times; and
  6. makes communication possible between different areas within the program site.
Examples: Organizations can use low barriers between designated spaces to promote visibility, and install convex mirrors to supplement line-of-sight supervision.
Systems for supervision, and the level of supervision provided, may vary based on the developmental stages and needs of the children and youth served. For example, organizations serving younger children might monitor which children are in the restroom, and how long they have been there, by having children put a clothespin by their name and set an egg timer when they leave the room. Conversely, the level of supervision should also respect older youths’ need for independence. Accordingly, an organization serving older youth might develop a policy allowing more independence that is worked out with youth, their families, and personnel.

Fundamental Practice

CA-OST 19.04

The organization ensures safety during arrivals and dismissals by: 
  1. working with parents or other appropriate family members to obtain instructions for arrival and dismissal, including when children and youth are supposed to arrive and how, and with whom, they are allowed to depart;
  2. establishing a system for monitoring when children and youth arrive, when they leave, and with whom they leave;
  3. developing a system to keep unauthorized people from taking children and youth;
  4. establishing protocols for families or schools to contact the organization if children and youth will be arriving late, leaving early, or absent;
  5. developing procedures that address how to respond if a child or youth is not picked up in a timely manner at dismissal; and
  6. contacting a responsible adult listed on the emergency form, or the school, if questions arise.
NA The organization only serves older youth who can come and go independently.

Fundamental Practice

CA-OST 19.05

There is a plan to provide adequate staff coverage: 
  1. when personnel are absent (i.e. due to illness, personal reasons, or professional development);
  2. when personnel leave the room to take a break or retrieve supplies; and
  3. when emergencies or special circumstances arise during program time.


Even if one staff member is sufficient to meet the program ratio specified in CA-OST 19.01, a second adult should be on hand to assist in case an emergency or special circumstance arises.
Examples: Emergencies or special circumstances include situations where a child becomes ill, requires separation from the group, needs special supervision or care, or has an emergency, as well as situations where a staff member becomes ill or has an emergency. The organization can support implementation of this standard by keeping an up-to-date list of adults who are qualified to serve as substitutes.

Fundamental Practice

CA-OST 19.06

One-on-one interactions between personnel and children and youth are in public areas visible by at least one other adult.


It is acceptable for a staff member to be alone with a child or youth during brief periods of transition (e.g., while escorting a child from the cafeteria to the computer lab), as long as their whereabouts are communicated to other personnel.