In a new effort to continue sharing effective ideas and practices that will strengthen education leadership and out-of-school learning, the Wallace Foundation has launched an online calculator that determines the variety of costs associated with high quality out-of-school time (OST) programs.
Forum One Communications designed the web site that hosts the calculator, at www.wallacefoundation.org/cost-of-quality, and built the core calculator application using the Adobe Flex development platform. Flex enabled Forum One to rapidly develop a rich, intuitive Flash-based interface.
In addition to using the cost calculator for OST programs, visitors can read case studies of actual programs and explore strategies for the improvement of quality and of program costs. The site also provides a breakdown of the research and methodology supporting the calculator’s generated results.
Out-of-school time professionals and others use the calculator to determine the costs for an OST program that will best suit children in their target population as well as their available budget.
First, the calculator asks 11 straightforward questions regarding the nature of the desired OST program. Detailed results are then generated in a comprehensive analysis with cost ranges organized by hour, day, week, month and year, as well as with a list ideas and resources. Users can adjust the results to fit their budget requirements and then save, print, or email the report.
Ultimately, through the interaction with the research, users gain a clear understanding of the major drivers of program costs and what decisions may require further thought.
The Wallace Foundation’s initiative to build this web-based tool is a response to the lack of information on what quality programs cost. The Foundation had collected cost data on 111 programs of various types and then developed a model to estimate costs for a new program, given a small set of parameters. The calculator enables the Foundation to share the data online in an accessible and useful way.
As public funding of OST programming has increased in recent years, so has the need for quality programs. The Wallace Foundation’s objective with the calculator is for those planning and administering out-of-school time programs to quickly budget for programming that aims high to cultivate children’s talents, improve their social skills and decrease the likelihood of risky behavior.